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^'Kany Cargoes " 











Fourth Edition 





Copyright, 1897, 

Copyright, 1897, 

By the bacheller syndicate 

Copyright, 1898, 

J ^ /->? 



Smoked Skipper. p 

A Safety Match :^~?*:.^L 29 

A Rash Experiment -y^"' 48 

-CH^^'The Cabin Passenger. /^.^Tf^. .ir?^..'#.:^v^rf.^.^l yo^u'^ 

" Choice Spirits "/. '."f /^T 80 

A Disciplinarian ."T. . Ht^. V 106 

Brother Hutchins. . .vVh .' .'. ... . : ....^{.^.'^ ^f^rfit^"^ 

The Disbursement Sheet . ^ff. ^1^. .'>.-!<«'?. ^hi^.^:?nhf ^^"^ ^^, 

Rule of Three 'X.'! . l^C^f. 1 . . 143 

Pickled Herring <r}'^.^rf??fPr:^. .7.4^. ?tXll7^. h^^^i \f^<^ •^; 

yVVo Two of a Trade . . . U.r:^.^:^:^^^. /.7^:^f. 163 

%. k^hx. Intervention . <t^. frrr:^?^ ^J:^. h^T^r/.W^. ,' 183 
*IU(^1 The Qrey Parrot. .^'f^Y.^^/^ /l\\ .T^V. . ^^ff^j^fl'lltfT^.r'x^z Uur^ 
^e^^'-Money Changers. .^«i»r. . ^Mi. fkO^ . . ..... .'."'."."':. ; . ; .^21/''. ''';^ - 

, ,jjr.,The Lost Ship... ■•.i^.^':^i ■.■.■;^ .%:::: 223 "''-^■^'' '' 




" Wapping Old Stairs ? " said the rough indi- 
vidual, shouldering the brand-new sea-chest, and 
starting off at a trot with it ; " yus, I know the 
place, captin. Fust v'y'ge, sir ? " 

" Ay, ay, my hearty," replied the owner of the 
chest, a small, ill-looking lad of fourteen. " Not 
so fast with those timbers of yours. D'ye hear ? " 

" All right, sir," said the man, and, slackening 
his pace, twisted his head round to take stock of 
his companion. 

" This ain't your fust v'y'ge, captin," he said 
admiringly ; " don't tell me. I could twig that 
directly I see you. Ho, what's the use o* trying 
to come it over a poor 'ard-working man like 
that ? " 

" I don't think there's much about the sea I 
don't know," said the boy in a satisfied voice. 
" Starboard, starboard your helium a bit." 

The man obeying promptly, they went the re- 



mainder of the distance in this fashion, to the 
great inconvenience of people coming from the 
other direction. 

" And a cheap 'arf-crown's worth, too, captin," 
said the man, as he thoughtfully put the chest 
down at the head of the stairs and sat on it pend- 
ing payment. 

" I want to go off to the Siisa?t Jane" said the 
boy, turning to a waterman who was sitting in his 
boat, holding on to the side of the steps with his 

" All right," said the man, " give us a hold o' 
your box." 

" Put it aboard," said the boy to the other man. 

" A' right, captin," said the man, with a cheer- 
ful smile, " but I'll 'ave my 'arf-crown fust if you 
don't mind." 

" But you said sixpence at the station," said 
the boy. 

" Two an' sixpence, captin," said the man, still 
smiling, "but I'm a bit 'usky, an* p'raps you 
didn't hear the two — 'arf a crown's the regler price. 
We ain't allowed to do it under." 

" Well, I won't tell anybody," said the boy. 

" Give the man 'is 'arf-crown," said the water- 
man, with sudden heat ; " that's 'is price, and my 
fare's eighteen pence." 

" All right," said the boy readily ; " cheap too. 
I didn't know the price, that's all. But I can't 
pay either of you till I get aboard. I've only got 


sixpence. I'll tell the captain to give you the 

" Tell 'oo," demanded the light porter, with 
some violence. 

" The captain," said the boy. 

" Look 'ere, you give me that 'arf-crown," said 
the other, "else I'll chuck your box overboard, an' 
you after it." 

" Wait a minute, then," said the boy, darting 
away up the narrow alley which led to the stairs, 
" I'll go and get change." 

" 'E's goin' to change 'arf a suvren, or p'raps a 
suvren," said the waterman ; " you'd better make 
it five bob, matey." 

" Ah, an' you make yours more," said the light 

porter cordially. " Well, I'm Well of all 

the " 

" Get off that box," said the big policeman who 
had come back with the boy. " Take your six- 
pence an' go. If I catch you down this way 
again " 

He finished the sentence by taking the fellow by 
the scruff of the neck and giving him a violent 
push as he passed him. 

" Waterman's fare is threepence," he said to the 
boy, as the man in the boat, with an utterly ex- 
pressionless face, took the chest from him. " I'll 
stay here till he has put you aboard." 

The boy took his seat, and the waterman, 
breathing hard, pulled out towards the vessels in 


the tier. He looked at the boy and then at the 
figure on the steps, and, apparently suppressing 
a strong inclination to speak, spat violently over 
the side. 

" Fine big chap, ain't he ? " said the boy. 

The waterman, affecting not to hear, looked 
over his shoulder, and pulled strongly with his 
left towards a small schooner, from the deck of 
which a couple of men were watching the small 
figure in the boat. 

" That's the boy I was going to tell you about," 
said the skipper, " and remember this 'ere ship's a 

" It's got a lot o' pirates aboard of it," said the 
mate fiercely, as he turned and regarded the crew, 
" a set o' lazy, loafing, idle, worthless " 

" It's for the boy's sake," interrupted the 

" Where'd you pick him up?" inquired the 

" He's the son of a friend o' mine what I've 
brought aboard to oblige," replied the skipper. 
" He's got a fancy for being a pirate, so just to 
oblige his father I told him we was a pirate. He 
wouldn't have come if I hadn't." 

" I'll pirate him," said the mate, rubbing his 

" He's a dreadful 'andful by all accounts," con- 
tinued the other; " got his 'ed stuffed full 'o these 
'ere penny dreadfuls till they've turned his brain 


almost. He started by being an Indian, and goin 
off on 'is own with two other kids. When 'e 
wanted to turn cannibal the other two objected, 
and gave 'im in charge. After that he did a bit 'o 
burgling, and it cost 'is old man no end o' money 
to hush it up." 

" Well, what did you want him for ? " grumbled 
the mate. 

" I'm goin' to knock the nonsense out of him," 
said the skipper softly, as the boat grazed the side. 
" Just step for'ard and let the hands know what's 
expected of 'em. When we get to sea it won't 

The mate moved off grumbling, as the small fare 
stood on the thwarts and scrambled up over the 
side. The waterman passed up the chest and, 
dropping the coppers into his pocket, pushed off 
again without a word. 

" Well, you've got here all right, Ralph ? " said 
the skipper. " What do you think of her ? " 

" She's a rakish-looking craft," said the boy, 
looking round the dingy old tub with much satis- 
faction ; " but where's your arms ? " 

" Hush ! " said the skipper, and laid his finger 
on his nose. 

" Oh, all right," said the youth testily, " but 
you might tell me." 

" You shall know all in good time," said the 
skipper patiently, turning to the crew, who came 
shuffling up, masking broad grins with dirty palms. 


" Here's a new shipmate for you, my lads. He's 
small, but he's the right stuff," 

The newcomer drew himself up, and regarded 
the crew with some dissatisfaction. For despera- 
does they looked far too good-tempered and prone 
to levity. 

" What's the matter with you, Jem Smithers? " 
inquired the skipper, scowling at a huge fair-haired 
man, who was laughing discordantly. 

" I was thinkin' o' the last party I killed, sir," 
said Jem, with sudden gravity. " I allers laugh 
when I think 'ow he squealed." 

" You laugh too much," said the other sternly, 
as he laid a hand on Ralph's shoulder. " Take a 
lesson from this fine fellow ; he don't laugh. He 
acts. Take 'im down below an' show him 'is 

" Will you please to follow me, sir ? " said 
Smithers, leading the way below. " I dessay 
you'll find it a bit stufTy, but that's owing to Bill 
Dobbs. A regler old sea-dog is Bill, always sleeps 
in 'is clothes and never washes." 

" I don't think the worse of him for that," said 
Ralph, regarding the fermenting Dobbs kindly. 

" You'd best keep a civil tongue in your 'ed, my 
lad," said Dobbs shortly. 

" Never mind 'im," said Smithers cheerfully • 
" nobody takes any notice o' old Dobbs. You 
can 'it 'im if you like. I won't let him hurt 


" I don't want to start by quarreling," said Ralph 

" You're afraid," said Jem tauntingly ; " you'll 
never make one of us. 'It 'im ; I won't let him 
hurt you." 

Thus aroused, the boy, first directing Dobbs' at- 
tention to his stomach by a curious duck of his 
head, much admired as a feint in his neighborhood, 
struck him in the face. The next moment the 
forecastle was in an uproar and Ralph prostrate 
on Dobbs' knees, frantically reminding Jem of his 

" All right, I won't let him 'urt you," said Jem 

'' But he /^hurting me," yelled the boy. " He's 
hurting me noivT 

" Well, wait till I get 'im ashore," said Jem, 
"his old woman won't know him when I've done 
with him." 

The boy's reply to this was a torrent of shrill 
abuse, principally directed to Jem's facial short- 

" Now don't get rude," said the seaman, grin- 

" Squint eyes," cried Ralph fiercely. 

" When you've done with that 'ere young gentle- 
man, Dobbs," said Jem, with exquisite politeness. 
" I should like to 'ave 'im for a little bit to teach 
'im manners." 

" 'E don't want to go," said Dobbs, grinning, 


as Ralph clung to him. " He knows who's kind 
to him." 

" Wait till I get a chance at you," sobbed Rai*">h, 
as Jem took him away from Dobbs. 

" Lord lummc," said Jem, regarding him in as- 
tonishment. " Why, he's actooaly cryin'. I've 
seen a good many pirates in my time, Bill, but 
this is a new sort." 

" Leave the boy alone," said the cook, a fat, 
good-natured man. " Here, come 'ere, old man. 
They don't mean no 'arm." 

Glad to escape, Ralph made his way over to the 
cook, grinding his teeth with shame as that 
worthy took him between his knees and mopped 
his eyes with something which he called a hand- 

" You'll be all right," he said kindly. " You'll be 
as good a pirate as any of us before you've finished." 

" Wait till the first engagement, that's all," 
sobbed the boy. " If somebody don't get shot in 
the back it won't be my fault." 

The two seamen looked at each other. " That's 
wot hurt my 'and then," said Dobbs slowly. " I 
thought it was a jack-knife." 

He reached over, and unceremoniously grabbing 
the boy by the collar, pulled him towards him, 
and drew a small, cheap revolver from his pocket. 
" Look at that, Jem." 

" Take your fingers orf the blessed trigger and 
then I will," said the other, somewhat sourly. 


" I'll pitch it overboard," said Dobbs. 

" Don't be a fool, Bill," said Smithers, pocket- 
inp it, " that's worth a few pints o' anybody's 
1 iiey. Stand out o' the way, Bill, the Pirit 
King wants to go on deck." 

Bill moved aside as the boy went to the ladder, 
and, allowing him to get up four or five steps, did 
the rest for him with his shoulder. The boy 
reached the deck on all fours, and, regaining a 
more dignified position as soon as possible, went 
and leaned over the side, regarding with lofty 
contempt the busy drudges on wharf and river. 

They sailed at midnight and brought up in the 
early dawn in Longreach, where a lighter loaded 
with barrels came alongside, and the boy smelt 
romance and mystery when he learnt that they 
contained powder. They took in ten tons, the 
lighter drifted away, the hatches were put on, and 
they started once more. 

It was his first voyage, and he regarded with 
eager interest the craft passing up and down. 
He had made his peace with the seamen, and they 
regaled him with blood-curdling stories of their 
adventures in the vain hope of horrifying him. 

" 'E's a beastly little rascal, that's wot 'e is," 
said the indignant Bill, who had surprised himself 
by his powers of narration ; " fancy larfin' when I 
told 'im of pitchin' the baby to the sharks." 

" 'E's all right, Bill," said the cook softly. 
" Wait till you've got seven of 'em." 


"What are you doing here, boy?" demanded 
the skipper, as Ralph, finding the seamen's yarns 
somewhat lacking in interest, strolled aft with hia 
hands in his pockets. 

" Nothing," said the boy, staring. 

" Keep the other end o' the ship," said the 
skipper sharply, " an' go an' 'elp the cook with 
the taters." 

Ralph hesitated, but a grin on the mate's face 
decided him. 

" I didn't come here to peel potatoes," he said, 

" Oh, indeed," said the skipper politely ; " an' 
wot might you 'ave come for, if it ain't being too 
inquisitive? " 

" To fight the enemy," said Ralph shortly. 

" Come *ere," said the skipper. 

The boy came slowly towards him. 

" Now look 'ere," said the skipper, " I'm going 
to try and knock a little sense into that stupid 'ed 
o' yours. I've 'card all about your silly little 
games ashore. Your father said he couldn't man- 
age you, so I'm goin' to have a try, and you'll 
find I'm a very different sort o' man to deal with 
to wot 'e is. The idea o' thinking this ship was a 
pirate. Why, a boy your age ought to know 
there ain't such things nowadays." 

" You told me you was," said the boy hotly, 
" else I wouldn't have come." 

"That's just why I told you," said the skipper. 


" But I didn't think you'd be such a fool as to 
beHeve it. Pirates, indeed ! Do we look like 

" You don't," said the boy with a sneer ; " you 
look more like " 

" Like wot ? " asked the skipper, edging closer 
to him. " Eh, like wot? " 

" I forget the word," said Ralph, with strong 
good sense. 

" Don't tell any lies now," said the skipper, 
flushing, as he heard a chuckle from the mate. 
" Go on, out with it. I'll give you just two 

" I forget it," persisted Ralph. 

"Dustman?" suggested the mate, coming to 
his assistance. " Coster, chimbley-sweep, mud- 
lark, pickpocket, convict washer-wom -" 

" If you'll look after your dooty, George, in- 
stead o' interferin' in matters that don't concern 
you," said the skipper in a choking voice, " I shall 
be obliged. Now, then, you boy, what were you 
going to say I was like ? " 

" Like the mate," said Ralph slowly. 

" Don't tell lies," said the skipper furiously ; 
" you couldn't 'ave forgot that word." 

" I didn't forget it," said Ralph, " but I didn't 
know how you'd like it." 

The skipper looked at him dubiously, and 
pushing his cap from his brow scratched his 


" And I didn't know how the mate 'ud like it, 
either," continued the boy. 

He relieved the skipper from an awkward di- 
lemma by walking off to the galley and starting 
on a bowl of potatoes. The master of the Susan 
Jane watched him blankly for some time and then 
looked round at the mate. 

" You won't get much change out of 'im," said 
the latter, with a nod ; " insultin' little devil." 

The other made no reply, but as soon as the po- 
tatoes were finished set his young friend to clean 
brass work, and after that to tidy the cabin up and 
help the cook clean his pots and pans. Meantime 
the mate went below and overhauled his chest. 

" This is where he gets all them ideas from," he 
said, coming aft with a big bundle of penny papers. 
" Look at the titles of 'em — ' The Lion of the 
Pacific,' ' The One-armed Buccaneer,' ' Captain 
Kidd's Last Voyage.' " 

He sat down on the cabin skylight and 
began turning them over, and, picking out certain 
gems of phraseology, read them aloud to the skip- 
per. The latter listened at first with scorn and 
then with impatience. 

" I can't make head or tail out of what you're 
reading, George," he said snappishly. " Who was 
Rudolph ? Read straight ahead." 

Thus urged, the mate, leaning fonvard so that 
his listener might hear better, read steadily through 
a serial in the first tlircc numbers. The third in- 


stalment left Rudolph swimming in a race with 
three sharks and a boat-load of cannibals ; and the 
joint efforts of both men failed to discover the 
other numbers. 

" Just wot I should *ave expected of 'im," said 
the skipper, as the mate returned from a fruitless 
search in the boy's chest. " I'll make him a bit 
more orderly on this ship. Go an' lock them 
other things up in your drawer, George. He's not 
to 'ave 'em again." 

The schooner was getting into open water now, 
and began to feel it. In front of them was the 
blue sea, dotted with white sails and funnels belch- 
ing smoke, speeding from England to worlds of 
romance and adventure. Something of the kind 
the cook said to Ralph, and urged him to get up 
and look for himself. He also, with the best in- 
tentions, discussed the restorative properties of 
fat pork from a medical point of view. 

The next few days the boy divided between 
seasickness and work, the latter being the skip- 
per's great remedy for piratical yearnings. Three 
or four times he received a mild drubbing, and 
what was worse than the drubbing, had to give an 
answer in the affirmative to the skipper's inquiry 
as to whether he felt in a more wholesome frame 
of mind. On the fifth morning they stood in to- 
wards Fairhaven, and to his great joy he saw trees 
and houses again. 

They stayed at Fairhaven just long enough to 


put out a small portion of their cargo. Ralph, 
stripped to his shirt and trousers, having to work 
in the hold with the rest, and proceeded to Low- 
port, a little place some thirty miles distant, to put 
out their powder. 

It was evening before they arrived, and, the 
tide being out, anchored in the mouth of the 
river on which the town stands. 

" Git in about four o'clock," said the skipper to 
the mate, as he looked over the side towards the 
little cluster of houses on the shore. " Do you 
feel better now I've knocked some o' that non- 
sense out o' you, boy ? " 

" Much better, sir," said Ralph respectfully. 

" Be a good boy," said the skipper, pausing on 
the companion-ladder, " and you can stay with us 
if you like. Better turn in now, as you'll have to 
make yourself useful again in the morning work- 
ing out the cargo." 

He went below, leaving the boy on deck. The 
crew were in the forecastle smoking, with the ex- 
ception of the cook, who was in the galley over 
a little private business of his own. 

An hour later the cook went below to prepare 
for sleep. The other two men were already in 
bed, and he was about to get into his when he 
noticed that Ralph's bunk, which was under his 
own, was empty. He went upon deck and looked 
round, and returning below, scratched his nose in 


" Where's the boy ? " he demanded, taking Jem 
by the arm and shaking him. 

" Eh ? " said Jem, rousing. " Whose boy ? " 

" Our boy, Ralph," said the cook. " I can't 
see 'im nowhere. I 'ope 'e ain't gone overboard, 
poor Httle chap." 

Jem refusing to discuss the matter, the cook 
awoke Dobbs. Dobbs swore at him peacefully, 
and resumed his slumbers. The cook went up 
again and prowled round the deck, looking in all 
sorts of unlikely places for the boy. He even 
climbed a little way into the rigging, and, finding 
no traces of him, was reluctantly forced to the 
conclusion that he had gone overboard. 

" Pore little chap," he said solemnly, looking 
over the ship's side at the still waters. 

He walked slowly aft, shaking his head, and 
looking over the stern, brought up suddenly with 
a cry of dismay and rubbed his eyes. The ship's 
boat had also disappeared. 

" Wot ? " said the two seamen as he ran below 
and communicated the news. " Well, if it's gorn, 
it s gorn. 

" Hadn't I better go an' tell the skipper?" said 
the cook. 

" Let 'im find it out 'isself," said Jem purring con- 
tentedly in the blankets, " It's 'is boat. Go'night." 

"Time we 'ad a noo 'un too," said Dobbs, 
yawning. " Don't you worry your 'ed, cook, 
about what don't consarn you." 


The cook took the advice, and, having made 
his few simple preparations for the night, blew 
out the lamp and sprang into his bunk. Then he 
uttered a sharp exclamation, and getting out again 
fumbled for the matches and relit the lamp. A 
minute later he awoke his exasperated friends for 
the third time. 

" S'elp me, cook," began Jem fiercely. 

" If you don't I will," said Dobbs, sitting up 
and trying to reach the cook with his clenched 

" It's a letter pinned to my pillow," said the 
cook in trembling tones, as he held it to the lamp. 

" Well, we don't want to 'ear it," said Jem. 
*' Shut up, d'ye hear ? " 

But there was that in the cook's manner which 
awed him. 

" Dear cook," he read feverishly, " I have made 
an infernal machine with clock-work, and hid it in 
the hold near the gunpowder when we were at 
Fairhavcn. I think it will go off between ten and 
eleven to-night, but I am not quite sure about the 
time. Don't tell those other beasts, but jump 
overboard and swim ashore. I have taken the 
boat. I would have taken you too, but you told 
me you swam seven miles once, so you can 

The reading came to an abrupt termination as 
his listeners sprang out of their bunks, and bolt- 
ing on deck, burst wildly into the cabin, and 


breathlessly reeled off the heads of the letter to 
its astonished occupants. 

" Stuck a wot in the hold ? " gasped the skip- 

" Infernal machine," said the mate ; " one of 
them things wot you blow up the 'Ouses of Parlia- 
ment with." 

" Wot's the time now ? " interrogated Jem anx- 

" 'Bout ha'-past ten," said the cool: trembling. 
" Let's give 'cm a hail ashore." 

They leaned over the side, and sent a mighty 
shout across the water. Most of Lowport had 
gone to bed, but the windows in the inn were 
bright, and lights showed in the upper windows 
of two or three of the cottages. 

Again they shouted in deafening chorus, casting 
fearful looks behind them, and in the silence a 
faint answering hail came from the shore. They 
shouted again like madmen, and then listening in- 
tently heard a boat's keel grate on the beach, and 
then the welcome click of oars in the rowlocks, 

" Make haste," bawled Dobbs vociferously, as 
the boat came creeping out of the darkness. " W'y 
don't you make 'astc? " 

" Wot's the row ? " cried a voice from the boat. 

" Gunpowder ! " yelled the cook frantically : 
" there's ten tons of it aboard just going to ex- 
plode. Hurry up." 

The sound of the oars ceased and a startled 


murmur was heard from the boat ; then an oar 
was pulled jerkily. 

" They're putting back," said Jem suddenly. 
" I'm going to swim for it. Stand by to pick me 
up, mates," he shouted, and lowering himself with 
a splash into the water struck out strongly towards 

Dobbs, a poor swimmer, after a moment's hesi- 
tation, followed his example. 

" I can't swim a stroke," cried the cook, his 
teeth chattering. 

The others, who were in the same predicament, 
leaned over the side, listening. The swimmers 
were invisible in the darkness, but their progress 
was easily followed by the noise they made. Jem 
was the first to be hauled on board, and a minute 
or two later the listeners on the schooner heard 
him assisting Dobbs. Then the sounds of strife, 
of thumps, and wicked words broke on their de- 
lighted ears. 

" They're coming back for us," said the mate, 
taking a deep breath. " Well done, Jem." 

The boat came towards them, impelled by 
powerful strokes, and was soon alongside. The 
three men tumbled in hurriedly, their fall being 
modified by the original crew, who were lying 
crouched up in the bottom of the boat. Jem and 
Dobbs gave way with hearty goodwill, and the 
doomed ship receded into the darkness. A little 
knot of people had gathered on the shore, and, 


receiving the tidings, became anxious for the 
safety of their town. It was felt that the windows, 
at least, were in imminent peril, and messengers 
were hastily sent round to have them opened. 

Still the deserted S7/sau Jane made no sign. 
Twelve o'clock struck from the little church at 
the back of the town, and she was still intact. 

" Something's gone wrong," said an old fisher- 
man with a bad way of putting things. " Now's the 
time for somebody to go and tow her out to sea." 

There was no response. 

" To save Lowport," said the speaker feelingly. 
" If I was only twenty years younger " 

" It's old men's work," said a voice. 

The skipper, straining his eyes through the 
gloom in the direction of his craft, said nothing. 
He began to think that she had escaped after all. 

Two o'clock struck and the crowd began to dis- 
perse. Some of the bolder inhabitants who were 
fidgety about draughts closed their windows, and 
children who had been routed out of their beds to 
take a nocturnal walk inland were led slowly back. 
By three o'clock the danger was felt to be over, 
and day broke and revealed the forlorn Susan 
Jane still riding at anchor. 

" I'm going aboard," said the skipper suddenly ; 
" who's coming with me ? " 

Jem and the mate and the town-policeman vol- 
unteered, and, borroAving the boat which had 
served them before, pulled swiftly out to their 


vessel and, taking the hatches off with unusual 
gentleness, commenced their search. It was ner- 
vous work at first, but they became inured to it, 
and, moreover, a certain suspicion, slight at first, 
but increasing in intensity as the search proceeded, 
gave them some sense of security. Later still 
they began to eye each other shamefacedly. 

" I don't believe there's anything there," said 
the policeman, sitting down and laughing boister- 
ously : " that boy's been making a fool of you." 

" That's about the size of it," groaned the mate. 
*' We'll be the laughing-stock o' the town," 

The skipper, who w'as standing with his back 
towards him, said nothing ; but, peering about, 
stooped suddenly, and, with a sharp exclamation, 
picked up something from behind a damaged case. 

" I've got it," he yelled suddenly ; " stand 
clear ! " 

He scrambled hafstily on deck, and, holding his 
find at arm's length, with his head averted, flung 
it far into the water. A loud cheer from a couple 
of boats which were watching greeted his action, 
and a distant response came from the shore. 

" Was that a infernal machine ? " whispered the 
bewildered Jem to the mate. "Why, it looked 
to me just like one o' them tins o' corned beef." 

The mate shook his head at him and glanced 
at the constable, who was gazing longingly over 
the side. " Well, I've 'eard of people being killed 
by f/ic;n sometimes," he said with a grin. 


Mr. Boom, late of the mercantile marine, had 
the last word, but only by the cowardly expedient 
of getting out of earshot of his daughter first, and 
then hurling it at her with a voice trained to com- 
pete with hurricanes. Miss Boom avoided a com- 
plete defeat by leaning forward with her head on 
one side in the attitude of an eager but unsuccess- 
ful listener, a pose which she abandoned for one 
of innocent joy when her sire, having been delud- 
ed into twice repeating his remarks, was fain to 
relieve his overstrained muscles by a fit of violent 

" I b'lieve she heard it all along," said Mr. 
Boom sourly, as he continued his way down the 
winding lane to the little harbour below. " The 
only way to live at peace with wimmen is to 
always be at sea ; then they make a fuss of you 
when you come home — if you don't stay too long, 
that is." 

He reached the quay, with its few tiny cottages 
and brown nets spread about to dry in the sun, 
and walking up and down, grumbling, regarded 
with a jaundiced eye a few small smacks, which 
lay in the harbour, and two or three crusted am- 
phibians lounging aimlessly about. 



" Mornin', Mr. Boom," said a stalwart youth in 
sea-boots, appearing suddenly over the edge of 
the quay from his boat. 

" Mornin', Dick," said Mr. Boom afTably ; "just 
goin' off ? " 

" 'Bout an hour's time," said the other ; " Miss 
Boom well, sir ? " 

" She's a' right," said Mr. Boom ; " me an' her 
've just had a few words. She picked up some- 
thing off the floor what she said was a cake o' mud 
off my heel. Said she wouldn't have it," con- 
tinued Mr. Boom, his voice rising. " My own 
floor too. Swep' it up off the floor with a dustpan 
and brush, and held it in front of me to look 

Dick Tarrell gave a grunt which might mean 
anything — Mr, Boom took it for sympathy. 

" I called her old maid," he said with gusto ; 
" * you're a fidgety old maid,' I said. You should 
ha' seen her look. Do you know what I think, 

" Not exactly," said Tarrell cautiously. 

" I b'leeve she's that savage that she'd take the 
first man that asked her," said the other trium- 
phantly ; " she's sitting up there at the door of 
the cottage, all by herself." 

Tarrell sighed. 

" With not a soul to speak to," said Mr. Boom 

The other kicked at a small crab which was 


passing, and returned it to its native element in 

" I'll walk up there with you if you're going 
that way," he said at length. 

" No, I'm just having a look round," said Mr, 
Boom, " but there's nothing to hinder you going, 
Dick, if you've a mind to." 

" There's no little thing you want, as I'm going 
there, I s'pose?" suggested Tarrell. "It's awk- 
ward when you go there and say, ' Good morn- 
ing,' and the girl says, ' Good morning,' and then 
you don't say any more and she don't say any 
more. If there was anything you wanted that 
I could help her look for, it 'ud make talk 

" Well — go for my baccy pouch," said Mr. 
Boom, after a minute's thought, "it'll take you a 
long time to find that." 

" Why?" inquired the other. 

" 'Cos I've got it here," said the unscrupulous 
Mr. Boom, producing it, and placidly filling his 
pipe. " You might spend — ah — the best part of 
an hour looking for that." 

He turned away with a nod, and Tarrell, after 
looking about him in a hesitating fashion to make 
sure that his movements were not attracting the 
attention his conscience told him they deserved, 
set off in the hang-dog fashion peculiar to nervous 
lovers up the road to the cottage. Kate Boom 
was sitting at the door as her father had described, 


and, in apparent unconsciousness of his approach, 
did not raise her eyes from her book. 

" Good morning," said Tarrell, in a husky 

Miss Boom returned the salutation, and, mark- 
ing the place in her book with her forefinger, 
looked over the hedge on the other side of the 
road to the sea beyond. 

" Your father has left his pouch behind, and 
being as I was coming this way, asked me to call 
for it," faltered the young man. 

Miss Boom turned her head, and, regarding him 
steadily, noted the rising colour and the shuffling 

" Did he say where he had left it ? "she inquired. 

" No," said the other. 

" Well, my time's too valuable to waste looking 
for pouches," said Kate, bending down to her 
book again, " but if you like to go in and look for 
it, you may ! " 

She moved aside to let him pass, and sat listen- 
ing with a slight smile as she heard him moving 
about the room. 

" I can't find it," he said, after a pretended 

" Better try the kitchen now then," said Miss 
Boom, Avithout looking up, " and then the scullery. 
It might be in the woodshed or even down the 
garden. You haven't half looked." 

She heard the kitchen door close behind him, 


and then, taking her book with her, went upstairs 
to her room. The conscientious Tarrell, having 
duly searched all the above-mentioned places, 
returned to the parlour and waited. He waited a 
quarter of an hour, and then going out by the 
front door stood irresolute. 

" I can't find it," he said at length, addressing 
himself to the bedroom window. 

" No. I was coming down to tell you," said 
Miss Boom, glancing sedately at him from over 
the geraniums. " I remember seeing father take 
it out with him this morning." 

Tarrell affected a clumsy surprise. " It doesn't 
matter," he said. " How nice your geraniums 

" Yes, they're all right," said Miss Boom briefly. 

" I can't think how you keep 'em so nice," said 

" Well, don't try," said Miss Boom kindly. 
" You'd better go back and tell father about the 
pouch. Perhaps he's waiting for a smoke all this 

" There's no hurry," said the young man ; " per^ 
haps he's found it." 

" Well, I can't stop to talk," said the girl ; " I'm 
busy reading." 

With these heartless words, she withdrew into 

the room, and the discomfited swain, only too 

conscious of the sorry figure he cut, went slowly 

back to the harbour, to be met by Mr. Boom with 



a wink of aggravating and portentous dimen* 

"You've took a long time," he said slyly. 
" There's nothing like a little scheming in these 

" It didn't lead to much," said the discomfited 

" Don't be in a hurry, my lad," said the elder 
man, after listening to his experiences. " I've 
been thinking over this little affair for some time 
now, an' I think I've got a plan." 

" If it's anything about baccy pouches " 

began the young man ungratefully. 

" It ain't," interrupted Mr. Boom, " it's quite 
diff'rent. Now, you'd best get aboard your craft 
and do your duty. There's more young men won 
girls' 'arts while doing of their duty than — than — 
if they warn't doing their duty. Do you under- 
stand me ? " 

It is inadvisable to quarrel with a prospective 
father-in-law, so that Tarrell said he did, and with 
a moody nod tumbled into his boat and put off to 
the smack. Mr. Boom having walked up and 
down a bit, and exchanged a few greetings, bent 
his steps in the direction of the " Jolly Sailor," 
and, ordering two mugs of ale, set them down on 
a small bench opposite his old friend Raggett. 

" I see young Tarrell go off grumpy-like," said 
Raggett, drawing a mug towards him and gazing 
at the fast-receding boats. 


" Aye, we'll have to do what we talked about," 
said Boom slowly. " It's opposition what that 
gal wants. She simply sits and mopes for the 
want of somebody to contradict her." 

" Well, why don't you do it ? " said Raggett. 
" That ain't much for a father to do surely." 

" I hev," said the other slowly, " more than 
once. O' course, when I insist upon a thing, it's 
done ; but a woman's a delikit creetur, Raggett, 
and the last row we had she got that ill that she 
couldn't get up to get my breakfast ready, no, nor 
my dinner either. It made us both ill, that did." 

"Are you going to tell Tarrell ? " inquired 

" No," said his friend. '' Like as not he'd tell 
her just to curry favour with her. I'm going to tell 
him he's not to come to the house no more. 
That'll make her want him to come, if anything 
will. Now there's no use wasting time. You 
begin to-day." 

" I don't know what to say," murmured Rag- 
gett, nodding to him as he raised the beer to 
his lips. 

" Just go now and call in — you might take her 
a nosegay." 

" I won't do nothing so darned silly," said 
Raggett shortly. 

" Well, go without 'em," said Boom impatiently ; 
" just go and get yourselves talked about, that's all 
— have everybody making game of both of you. 


Talking about a good-looking young girl being 
sweethearted by an old chap with one foot in the 
grave and a face like a dried herring. That's what 
I want." 

Mr. Raggett, who was just about to drink, put 
his mug down again and regarded his friend 

" Might I ask who you're alloodin' too ? " he 
inquired somewhat shortly. 

Mr. Boom, brought up in mid-career, shuffled a 
little and laughed uneasily. " Them ain't my 
words, old chap," he said ; " it was the way she 
was speaking of you the other day." 

" Well, I won't have nothin' to do with it," said 
Raggett rising. 

" Well, nobody needn't know anything about 
it," said Boom, pulling him down to his seat 
again. " She won't tell, I'm sure — she wouldn't 
like the disgrace of it." 

" Look here," said Raggett getting up again. 

" I mean from her point of view," said Mr. Boom 
querulously ; " you're very 'asty, Raggett." 

" Well, I don't care about it," said Raggett 
slowly ; " it seemed all right when we was talking 
about it ; but s'pose I have all my trouble for 
nothing, and she don't take Dick after all ? What 

" Well, then there's no harm done," said his 
friend, " and it'll be a bit o' sport for both of us. 
You go up and start, an' I'll have another pint of 


beer and a clean pipe waiting for you against you 
come back." 

Sorely against his better sense Mr. Raggett rose 
and went off, grumbling. It was fatiguing work 
on a hot day, climbing the road up the cliff, but he 
took it quietly, and having gained the top, moved 
slowly towards the cottage. 

" Morning, Mr. Raggett," said Kate cheerily, as 
he entered the cottage. " Dear, dear, the idea of 
an old man like you climbing about ! It's won- 

" I'm sixty-seven," said Mr. Raggett viciously, 
" and I feel as young as ever I did." 

" To be sure," said Kate soothingly ; " and look 
as young as ever you did. Come in and sit down 
a bit." 

Mr. Raggett with some trepidation complied, 
and sitting in a very upright position, wondered 
how he should begin. " I am just sixty-seven," 
he said slowly. " I'm not old and I'm not young, 
but I'm just old enough to begin to want some- 
body to look after me a bit." 

" I shouldn't while I could get about if I were 
you," said the innocent Kate. " Why not wait 
until you're bed-ridden ? " 

" I don't mean that at all," said Mr. Raggett 
snappishly. " I mean I'm thinking of getting 

" Good — gracious ! " said Kate open-mouthed. 

" I may have one foot in the grave, and re- 


semble a dried herring in the face/' pursued Mr. 
Raggett with bitter sarcasm, " but " 

" You can't help that," said Kate gently. 

" But I'm going to get married," said Raggett 

" Well, don't get in a way about it," said the 
girl. " Of course, if you want to, and — and — you 
can find somebody else who wants to, there's no 
reason why you shouldn't ! Have you told father 
about it ? " 

" I have," said Mr. Raggett, " and he has given 
his consent." 

He put such meaning into this remark and so 
much more in the contortion of visage which ac- 
companied it, that the girl stood regarding him in 
blank astonishment. 

" His consent?" she said in a strange voice. 

Mr. Raggett nodded. 

" I went to him first," he said, trying to speak 
confidently. " Now I've come to you — I want 
you to marry me ! " 

" Don't you be a silly old man, Mr. Raggett," 
said Kate, recovering her composure. "And as for 
my father, you go back and tell him I want to see 

She drew aside and pointed to the door, and Mr. 
Raggett, thinking that he had done quite enough 
for one day, passed out and retraced his steps to 
the "Jolly Sailor." Mr. Boom met him half-way, 
and having received his message, spent the rest of 


the morning in fortifying himself for the reception 
whicli awaited him. 

It would be difficult to say which of the two 
young people was the more astonished at this sud- 
den change of affairs. Miss Boom, affecting to 
think that her parent's reason was affected treated 
him accordingly, a state of affairs not without its 
drawbacks, as Mr. Boom found out. Tarrell, on 
the other hand, attributed it to greed, and being 
forbidden the house, spent all his time ashore on 
a stile nearly opposite, and sullenly watched events. 

For three weeks Mr. Raggett called daily, and 
after staying to tea, usually wound up the evening 
by formally proposing for Kate's hand. Both con- 
spirators were surprised and disappointed at the 
quietness with which Miss Boom received these 
attacks ; Mr. Raggett meeting with a politeness 
which was a source of much wonder to both of 

His courting came to an end suddenly. He 
paused one evening with his hand on the door, and 
having proposed in the usual manner was going 
out, when Miss Boom called him back. 

" Sit down, Mr. Raggett," she said calmly. Mr. 
Raggett, wondering inwardly, resumed his seat. 

" You have asked me a good many times to 
marry you," said Kate. 

" I have," said Mr. Raggett, nodding. 

" And I'm sure it's very kind of you," continued 
the girl, " and if I've hurt your feelings by refusing 


you, it is only because I have thought perhaps I 
was not good enough for you." 

In the silence which followed this unexpected 
and undeserved tribute to Mr, Raggett's worth, 
the two old men eyed each other in silent con- 

" Still, if you've made up your mind," continued 
the girl, " I don't know that it's for me to object. 
You're not much to look at, but you've got the 
loveliest chest of drawers and the best furniture all 
round in Mastleigh. And I suppose you've got 
a little money? " 

Mr. Raggett shook his head, and in a broken 
voice was understood to say : " A very little." 

" I don't want any fuss or anything of that kind," 
said Miss Boom calmly. " No bridesmaids or any- 
thing of that sort ; it wouldn't be suitable at your 

Mr. Raggett withdrew his pipe, and holding it 
an inch or two from his mouth, listened like one 
in a dream. 

" Just a few old friends, and a bit of cake," con- 
tinued Miss Boom musingly. " And instead of 
spending a lot of money in foolish waste, we'll 
have three weeks in London." 

Mr. Raggett made a gurgling noise in his throat, 
and suddenly remembering himself, pretended to 
think that it was something wrong with his pipe, 
and removing it blew noisily through the mouth- 


" Perhaps " he said, in a trembling voice — " per- 
haps you'd better take a little longer to consider, 
my dear," 

Kate shook her head. " I've quite made up 
my mind," she said, " quite. And now I want to 
marry you just as much as you want to marry me. 
Good-night, Father ; good-night — George." 

Mr. Raggett started violently, and collapsed in 
his chair. 

" Raggett," said Mr, Boom huskily. 

" Don't talk to me," said the other, " I can't 
bear it." 

Mr. Boom, respecting his friend's trouble, re- 
lapsed into silence again, and for a long time not 
a word was spoken. 

" My 'ed's in a whirl," said Mr. Raggett at length. 

" It 'ud be a wonder if it wasn't," said Mr. Boom 

" To think," continued the other miserably, 
"how I've been let in for this. The plots an' the 
plans and the artfulness what's been goin' on round 
me, an' I've never seen it." 

" What d'ye mean ? " demanded Mr, Boom, with 
sudden violence. 

" I know what I mean," said Mr. Raggett darkly. 

" P'r'aps you'll tell me, then," said the other, 

"Who thought of it first?" demanded Mr. 
Raggett ferociously. " Who came to me and 
asked me to court his slip of a girl ? " 

" Don't you be a' old fool," said Mr. Boom 


heatedly. " It's done now, and what's done can't 
be undone. I never thought to have a son-in-law 
seven or eight years older than what I am, and 
what's more, I don't want it." 

" Said I wasn't much to look at, but she liked 
my chest o' drawers," repeated Raggett mechani- 

" Don't ask me where she gets her natur' from, 
cos I couldn't tell you," said the unhappy parent; 
" she don't get it from me." 

Mr. Raggett allowed this reflection upon the late 
Mrs. Boom to pass unnoticed, and taking his hat 
from the table, fixed it firmly upon his head, and 
gazing with scornful indignation upon his host, 
stepped slowly out of the door without going 
through the formality of bidding him good-night. 

" George," said a voice from above him. 

Mr. Raggett started, and glanced up at some- 
body leaning from the window. 

" Come in to tea to-morrow early," said the 
voice pressingly ; " good-night, dear." 

Mr. Raggett turned and fled into the night, 
dimly conscious that a dark figure had detached 
itself from the stile opposite, and was walking 
beside him. 

" That you, Dick? " he inquired nervously, after 
an oppressive silence. 

"That's me," said Dick. " I heard her call you 
* dear.' " Mr. Raggett, his face suffused with 
blushes, hung his head. 


" Called you ' dear,' " repeated Dick ; " I heard 
her say it. I'm going to pitch you into the har- 
bour. I'll learn you to go courting a young girl. 
What are you stopping for?" 

Mr. Raggett delicately intimated that he was 
stopping because he preferred, all things consid- 
ered, to be alone. Finding the young man, how- 
ever, bent upon accompanying him, he divulged the 
plot of which he had been the victim, and bitterly 
lamented his share in it. 

"You don't want to marry her, then," said the 
astonished Dick. 

" Course I don't," snarled Mr. Raggett ; " I 
can't afford it. I'm too old ; besides which, she'll 
turn my little place topsy-turvy. Look here, 
Dick, I done this all for you. Now, it's evident 
she only wants my furniture : if I give all the best 
of it to you, she'll take you instead." 

" No, she won't," said Dick grimly ; " I wouldn't 
have her now not if she asked me on her bended 

" Why not ? " said Raggett. 

" I don't want to marry that sort o' girl," said 
the other scornfully ; " it's cured me." 

" What about me, then ? " said the unfortunate 

" Well, so far as I can see, it serves you right 
for mixing in other people's business," said Dick 
shortly. " Well, good-night, and good luck to 


To Mr. Raggett's sore disappointment, he kept 
to his resolution, and being approached by Mr. 
Boom on his elderly friend's behalf, was rudely 
frank to him. 

" I'm a free man again," he said blithely, " and 
I feel better than I've felt for ever so long. More 

" You ought to think of other people," said 
Mr. Boom severely ; "think of poor old Raggett." 

" Well, he's got a young wife out of it," said 
Dick. " I dare say he'll be happy enough. He 
wants somebody to help him spend his money." 

In this happy frame of mind he resumed his 
ordinary life, and when he encountered his former 
idol, met her with a heartiness and unconcern 
which the lady regarded with secret disapproval. 
He was now so sure of himself that, despite a 
suspicion of ulterior design on the part of 
Miss Boom, he even accepted an invitation to 

The presence of Mr. Raggett made it a slow 
and solemn function. Nobody with any feelings 
could eat with any appetite with that afflicted 
man at the table, and the meal passed almost in 
silence. Kate cleared the meal away, and the 
men sat at the open door with their pipes while 
she washed up in the kitchen. 

" Me an' Raggett thought o* stepping down to 
the ' Sailor's,' " said Mr. Boom, after a third appli- 
cation of his friend's elbow. 


" I'll come with you," said Dick. 

" Well, we've got a little business to talk about," 
said Boom confidentially ; " but we shan't be long. 
If you wait here, Dick, we'll see you when we 
come back." 

"All right," said Tarrell. 

He watched the two old men down the road, 
and then, moving his chair back into the room, 
silently regarded the busy Kate. 

" Make yourself useful," said she brightly ; 
" shake the tablecloth." 

Tarrell took it to the door, and having shaken 
it, folded it with much gravity, and handed it 

" Not so bad for a beginner," said Kate, taking 
it and putting it in a drawer. She took some 
needlework from another drawer, and, sitting 
down, began busily stitching. 

" Wedding-dress ? " inquired Tarrell, with an 
assumption of great ease. 

" No, tablecloth ! " said the girl, with a laugh. 
" You'll want to know a little more before you get 

" Plenty o' time for me," said Tarrell ; " I'm in 
no hurry," 

The girl put her work down and looked up 
at him. 

" That's right," she said staidily. " I suppose 
you were rather surprised to hear I was going 
to get married ? " 


" A little," said Tarrell ; " there's been so many 
after old Raggett, I didn't think he'd ever be 

" Oh ! " said Kate. 

" I daresay he'll make a very good husband," 
said Tarrell patronisingly. " I think you'll make 
a nice couple. He's got a nice home." 

" That's why I'm going to marry him," said 
Kate. '* Do you think it's wrong to marry a man 
for that?" 

" That's your business," said Tarrell coldly ; 
* speaking for myself, and not wishing to hurt 
your feelings, / shouldn't like to marry a girl like 

" You mean you wouldn't like to marry me ? " 
said Kate softly. 

She leaned forward as she spoke, until her 
breath fanned his face. 

" That's what I do mean," said Tarrell, with a 
suspicion of doggedness in his voice. 

" Not even if I asked you on my bended knees ? " 
said Kate. " Aren't you glad you're cured ? " 

" Yes," said Tarrell manfully. 

" So am I," said the girl ; " and now that you 
are happy, just go down to the ' Jolly Sailor's,' 
and make poor old Raggett happy too." 

"How?" ask Tarrell. 

" Tell him that I have only been having a joke 
with him," said Kate, surveying him with a steady 
smile. " Tell him that I overheard him and father 


talking one night, and that I resolved to give them 
both a lesson. And tell them that I didn't think 
anybody could have been so stupid as they have 
been to believe in it." 

She leaned back in her chair, and, regarding 
the dumfounded Tarrell with a smile of wicked 
triumph, waited for him to speak. " Raggett, 
indeed ! " she said disdainfully. 

" I suppose," said Tarrell at length, speaking 
very slowly, " my being stupid was no surprise to 

" Not a bit," said the girl cheerfully. 

" I'll ask you to tell Raggett yourself," said 
Tarrell, rising and moving towards the door. " I 
sha'n't see him. Good-night." 

" Good-night," said she. " Where are you go- 
ing, then ? " 

There was no reply. 

" Where are you going?" she repeated. Then 
a suspicion of his purpose flashed across her. 
" You're not foolish enough to be going away ? " 
she cried in dismay. 

" Why not ? " said Tarrell slowly. 

" Because," said Kate, looking down — " oh, be- 
cause — well, it's ridiculous. I'd sooner have you 
stay here and feel what a stupid you've been 
making of yourself. I want to remind you of it 

" I don't want reminding," said Tarrell, taking 
Raggett's chair ; " I know it now." 


The hands on the wharf had been working all 
Saturday night and well into the Sunday morning 
to finish the Foa^n, and now, at ten o'clock, with 
hatches down and freshly-scrubbed decks, the 
skipper and mate stood watching the tide as it 
rose slowly over the smooth Thames mud. 

" What time's she coming?" inquired the skip- 
per, turning a lazy eye up at the wharf. 

" About ha'-past ten, she said," replied the mate. 
" It's very good o' you to turn out and let her 
have your state-room." 

" Don't say another word about that," said the 
skipper impressively. " I've met your wife once 
or twice, George, an' I must say that a nicer spoken 
woman, an' a more well-be'aved one, I've seldom 

" Same to you," said the mate ; " your wife I 

" Any man," continued the skipper, " as would 

lay in a comfortable state-room, George, and leave 

a lady a-trying to turn and to dress and ondress 

herself in a pokey little locker ought to be 

ashamed of himself." 

" You see, it's the luggage they bring," said the 


mate, slowly refilling his pipe. " What they want 
with it all I can't think. As soon as my old 
woman makes up her mind to come for a trip, to- 
morrow being Bank Holiday, an' she being in the 
mind for a outing, what does she do ? Goes 
down Commercial Road and buys a bonnet far 
beyond her station," 

" They're all like it," said the skipper ; " mine's 
just as bad. What does that boy want ? " 

The boy approached the edge of the jetty, and, 
peering down at them, answered for himself. 

"Who's Captain Bunnett.''" he demanded, 

" That's me, my lad," said the skipper, looking 

" I've got a letter for yer," said the boy, hold- 
ing it out. 

The skipper held out his hands and caught it ; 
and, after reading the contents, felt his beard and 
looked at the mate. 

" It never rains but it pours," he said figu- 

" What's up ? " inquired the other. 

" Ere's my old woman coming now," said the 
skipper. " Sent a note to say she's getting ready 
as fast as she can, an' I'm not to sail on any 
account till she comes." 

"That's awkward," said the mate, who felt that 
he was expected to say something. 

" It never struck me to tell her your wife was 


coming," said the skipper. " Where we're to put 
'em both I don't know. I s'pose it's quite certain 
your wife'll come ? " 

" Certain," said the mate. 

" No chance of 'er changing 'er mind ? " sug- 
gested the skipper, looking away from him. 

" Not now she's got that bonnet," replied the 
mate. " I s'pose there's no chance of your wife 
changing hers ?" 

The skipper shook his head. " There's one 
thing," he said hopefully, " they'll be nice com- 
pany for each other. They'll have to 'ave the 
state-room between 'em. It's a good job my wife 
ain't as big as yours." 

" We'll be able to play four 'anded wist some- 
times," said the mate, as he followed the skipper 
below to see what further room could be made. 

" Crowded but jolly," said the other. 

The two cabs drove up almost at the same mo- 
ment while they were below, and Mrs. Bunnett's 
cabman had no sooner staggered on to the jetty 
with her luggage than Mrs. Fillson's arrived with 
hers. The two ladies, who were entire strangers, 
stood regarding each other curiously as they 
looked down at the bare deck of the Foam. 

" George ! " cried Mrs. Fillson, who was a fine 
woman, raising her voice almost to a scream in the 
effort to make herself heard above the winch of a 
neighbouring steamer. 

It was unfortunate perhaps that both ofificers of 


the schooner bore the same highly-respectable 
Christian name. 

" George ! " cried Mrs. Bunnett, glancing indig- 
nantly at the other lady. 

" Ge-orge ! " cried Mrs. Fillson, returning her 
looks with interest. 

" Hussey," said Mrs. Bunnett under her breath, 
but not very much under. 

" George ! " 

There was no response. 

" George ! " cried both ladies together. 

Still no response, and they made a louder 

There was yet another George on board, in the 
fo'c'sle, and, in response to pushes from curious 
friends below, he came up, and regarded the fair 
duettists open-mouthed. 

" What d'yer want ? " he said, at length sheep- 

" Will you tell Captain Bunnett that his wife, 
Mrs. Bunnett, is here?" said that lady, a thin, 
little woman with bright black eyes. 

"Yes, mum," said the seaman, and was hurry- 
ing off when Mrs. Fillson called him back. 

" Will you tell Mr. Fillson that his wife, Mrs. 
Fillson, is up here?" she said politely. 

" All right, mum," said the other, and went be- 
low to communicate the pleasing tidings. Both 
husbands came up on deck hastily, and a glance 
served to show them how their wives stood. 


" How do you do, Cap'n Bunnett," said Mrs. 
Fillson, with a fascinating smile. 

" Good-morning, marm," said the skipper, try- 
ing to avoid his wife's eyes ; " that's my wife, Mrs. 

" Good-morning, ma'am," said Mrs. Fillson, ad- 
justing the new bonnet with the tips of her fingers. 

" Good-morning to you," said Mrs. Bunnett in 
a cold voice, but patronising. " You have come 
to bring your husband some of his things, I 
suppose? " 

" She's coming with us," said the skipper, in a 
hurry to have it over. " Wait half a moment, 
and I'll help you down." 

He got up on to the side and helped them both 
to the deck, and, with a great attempt at cheery 
conversation, led the way below, where, in the 
midst of an impressive silence, he explained that 
the ladies would have to share the state-room 
between them. 

" That's the only way out of it," said the mate, 
after waiting in vain for them to say something. 

" It's a fairish size when you come to look at 
it," said the skipper, putting his head on one side 
to see whether the bunk looked larger that way. 

" Pack three in there at a pinch," said the mate 

Still the ladies said nothing, but tliere was a 
storm-signal hoisted in Mrs. Bunnett's cheek, 
which boded no good to her husband. There 


was room only for one trunk in the state-room, 
and by prompt generalship Mrs. Fillson got hers 
in first. Having seen it safe she went up on deck 
for a look round. 

" George," said Mrs. Bunnett fiercely, as soon as 
they were alone. 

" Yes, my dear," said her husband. 

*' Pack that woman off home," said Mrs. Bunnett 

" I couldn't do that," said the skipper firmly. 
" It's your own fault ; you should have said you 
was coming." 

" Oh, I know you didn't want me to come," said 
Mrs. Bunnett, the roses on her bonnet trembling. 
" The mate can think of a little pleasure for Jiis 
wife, but I can stay at home and do your mending 
and keep the house clean. Oh, I know ; don't 
tell me." 

" Well, it's too late to alter it," said her hus- 
band. " I must get up above now ; you'd better 
come too." 

Mrs. Bunnett followed him on deck, and, get- 
ting as far from the mate's wife as possible, 
watched with a superior air of part ownership the 
movements of the seamen as they got under way. 
A favorable westerly breeze was blowing, and the 
canvas once set she stood by her husband as he 
pointed out the various objects of interest on the 
banks of the river. 

They were still in the thick of the traffic at 


dinner time, so that the skipper was able, to his 
secret relief, to send the mate below to do the 
honours of the table. He came up from it pale and 
scared, and, catching the skipper's eye, hunched 
his shoulders significantly. 

" No words ? " inquired the latter anxiously, in 
a half-whisper. 

" Not exactly words," replied the mate. " What 
you might call snacks." 

" I know," said the other with a groan. 

" If you don't now," said the mate, " you will at 
tea time. I'm not going to sit down there with 
them again alone. You needn't think it. If you 
was to ask me what I've been eating I couldn't 
tell you." 

He moved off a bit as his table companions 
came up on deck, and the master of the Foam 
deciding to take the bull by the horns, called both 
of them to him, and pointed out the beauties of 
the various passing craft. In the midst of his dis- 
course his wife moved ofT, leaving the unhappy 
man conversing alone with Mrs. Fillson, her face 
containing an expression such as is seen in the 
prints of the very best of martyrs as she watched 

At tea time the men sat in misery, Mrs. Bunnett 
passed Mrs. Fillson her tea without looking at 
her, an example which Mrs. Fillson followed in 
handing her the cut bread and butter. When she 
took the plate back it was empty, and Mrs. Bun- 


nett, convulsed with rage, was picking the slices 
out of her lap. 

" Oh, I am sorry," said Mrs. Fillson. 

" You're not, ma'am," said Mrs. Bunnett fiercely. 
" You did it a purpose." 

" There, there ! " said both men feebly. 

" Of course my husband'll sit quite calm and 
see me insulted," said Mrs. Bunnett, rising angrily 
from her seat. 

"And my husband'll sit still drinking tea while 
I'm given the lie," said Mrs. Fillson, bending an 
indignant look upon the mate. 

" If you think I'm going to share the state-room 
with that woman, George, you're mistaken," said 
Mrs. Bunnett in a terrible voice. " I'd sooner 
sleep on a doorstep." 

" And I'd sooner sleep on the scraper," said Mrs. 
Fillson, regarding her foe's scanty proportions. 

" Very well, me an' the mate'U sleep there," 
said the skipper wearily. " You can have the 
mate's bunk and Mrs. Fillson can have the locker. 
You don't mind, George ? " 

*' Oh, George don't mind," said Mrs. Bunnett 
mimickingly ; " anything'll do for George. If 
you'd got the spirit of a man, you wouldn't let 
me be insulted like this." 

" And if you'd got the spirit of a man," said Mrs. 
Fillson, turning on her husband, " you wouldn't 
let them talk to me like this. You never stick up 
for me." 


She flounced up on deck where Mrs. Bunnett, 
after a vain attempt to finish her tea, shortly- 
followed her. The two men continued their meal 
for some time in silence. 

" We'll have to 'ave a quarrel just to oblige 
them, George," said the skipper at length, as he 
put down his cup, " Nothing else'll satisfy 'em." 

" It couldn't be done," said the mate, reaching 
over and clapping him on the back. 

*' Just pretend, I mean," said the other. 

" It couldn't be done proper," said the mate ; 
" they'd see through it. We've sailed together five 
years now, an' never 'ad what I could call a really- 
nasty word." 

" Well, if you can think o' anything," said the 
skipper, " say so. This sort o' thing is worry- 

" See how we get on at breakfast," said the 
mate, as he lit his pipe. " If that's as bad as this, 
we'll have a bit of a row to please 'em." 

Breakfast next morning was, if anything, worse, 
each lady directly inciting her lord to acts of open 
hostility. In this they were unsuccessful, but in 
the course of the morning the husbands arranged 
matters to their own satisfaction, and at the next 
meal the storm broke with violence. 

" I don't wish to complain or hurt anybody's 
feelings," said the skipper, after a side-wink at the 
mate, " but if you could eat your wittles with a 
little less noise, George, I'd take it as a favour." 


" Would you ? " said the mate, as his wife 
stiffened suddenly in her seat. " Oh ! " 

Both belligerents, eyeing each other ferociously, 
tried hard to think of further insults. 

" Like a pig," continued the skipper grum- 

The mate hesitated so long for a crushing re- 
joinder that his wife lost all patience and rose to 
her feet crimson with wrath. 

" How dare you talk to my husband like that ? " 
she demanded fiercely. " George, come up on 
deck this instant ! " 

" I don't mind what he says," said the mate, 
who had only just begun his dinner. 

" You come away at once," said his wife, push- 
ing his plate from him. 

The mate got up with a sigh, and, meeting the 
look of horror-stricken commiseration in his 
captain's eye, returned it with one of impotent 

** Use a larger knife, cap'n," he said savagely. 
" You'll swallow that little 'un one of these days." 

The skipper, with the weapon in question 
gripped in his fist, turned round and stared at him 
in petrified amazement. 

" If I wasn't the cap'n o' this ship, George," he 
said huskily, " an' bound to set a good example to 
the men, I'd whop you for them words." 

" It's all for your good. Captain Bunnett," said 
Mrs. Fillson mincingly. " There was a poor old 


workhouse man I used to give a penny to some- 
times, who would eat with his knife, and he 
choked himself with it." 

" Ay, he did that, and he hadn't got a mouth 
half the size o' yours," said the mate warningly. 

" Cap'n or no cap'n, crew or no crew," said the 
skipper in a suffocating voice, " I can't stand this. 
Come up on deck, George, and repeat them 

" Before the mate could accept the invitation, 
he was dragged back by his wife, while at the same 
time Mrs. Bunnett, with a frantic scream, threw 
her arms round her husband's neck, and dared 
him to move. 

" You wait till I get you ashore, my lad," said 
the skipper threateningly. 

" I'll have to bring the ship home after I've 
done with you," retorted the mate as he passed up 
on deck with his wife. 

During the afternoon the couples exchanged 
not a word, though the two husbands exchanged 
glances of fiery import, and later on, their spouses 
being below, gradually drew near to each other. 
The mate, however, had been thinking, and as 
they came together met his foe with a pleasant 

" Bravo, old man," he said heartily. 

" What d'yer mean ? " demanded the skipper in 
gruff astonishment. 

" I mean the way you pretended to row me," 


said the mate. " Splendid you did it. I tried to 
back you up, but lor ! I wasn't in it with you." 

" What, d'yer mean to say you didn't mean what 
you said ? " inquired the other. 

" Why, o' course," said the mate with an appear- 
ance of great surprise. " You didn't, did you ? " 

" No," said the skipper, swallowing something 
in his throat. " No, o' course not. But you did 
it well too, George. Uncommon well, you did." 

" Not half so well as you did," said the mate. 
" Well, I s'pose we've got to keep it up now." 

" I s'pose so," said the skipper ; " but we 
mustn't keep it up on the same things, George. 
Swallerin' knives an' that sort o' thing, I mean." 

" No, no," said the mate hastily. 

" An' if you could get your missus to go home 
by train from Summercove, George, we might 
have a little peace and quietness," added the other. 

" She'd never forgive me if I asked her," said 
the mate: "you'll have to order it, cap'n." 

" I won't do that, George," said the skipper 
firmly. "I'd never treat a lady like that aboard 
my ship. I 'ope I know 'ow to behave myself if 
I do eat with my knife." 

" Stow that," said the mate, reddening. "We'll 
wait an' see what turns up," he added hopefully. 

For the next three days nothing fresh trans- 
pired, and the bickering between the couples, 
assumed on the part of the men and virulent on 
the part of their wives, went from bad to worse. 


It was evident that the ladies preferred it to any 
other amusement life on ship-board could offer, 
and, after a combined burst of hysterics on their 
part, in which the whole ship's company took a 
strong interest, the husbands met to discuss heroic 

"It's getting worse and worse," said the skipper 
ruefully. We'll be the laughing stock o' the crew 
even afore they're done with us. There's another 
day afore we reach Summercove, there's five or 
six days there, an' at least five back again." 

" There'll be murder afore then," said the mate, 
shaking his head. 

" If we could only pack 'em both 'ome by train," 
continued the skipper. 

" That's an expense," said the mate. 

" It 'ud be worth it," said the other. 

" An' they wouldn't do it," said the mate, 
" neither of 'em." 

" I've seen women having rows afore," said the 
skipper, " but then they could get away from each 
other. It's being boxed up in this little craft as 
does the mischief." 

" S'pose we pretend the ship's not seaworthy," 
said the mate. 

" Then they'd stand by us," said the skipper, 
" closer than ever." 

" I b'leeve they would," said the mate. " They'd 
go fast enough if we'd got a case o' small-pox oi 
anything like that aboard, though." 


The skipper grunted assent. 

" It 'ud be worth trying," said the mate. "We've 
pretended to have a quarrel. Now just as we're 
going into port let one of the hands, the boy 
if you like, pretend he's sickening for small- 

" How's he going to do it ? " inquired the 
skipper derisively. 

" You leave it to me," replied the other. "I've 
got an idea how it's to be done." 

Against his better judgment the skipper, after 
some demur, consented, and the following day, 
when the passengers were on deck gazing at the 
small port of Summercove as they slowly 
approached it, the cook came up excitedly and 
made a communication to the skipper. 

" What ? " cried the latter. " Nonsense." 

" What's the matter ? " demanded Mrs. Bunnett, 
turning round. 

" Cook, here, has got it into his head that the 
boy's got the small-pox," said the skipper. 

Both women gave a faint scream. 

" Nonsense," said Mrs. Bunnett, with a pale 

" Rubbish," said Mrs. Fillson, clasping her 
hands nervously. 

" Very good, mum," said the cook calmly. 
" You know best, o' course, but I was on a barque 
once what got it aboard bad, and I think I 02{£^/ii 
to know it when I see it." 


" Yes ; and now you think everything's the 
small-pox," said Mrs. Bunnett uneasily. 

" Very well, mum," said the cook, spreading out 
his hands. " Will you come down an' 'ave a look 
at im? 

" No," snapped Mrs. Bunnett, retreating a pace 
or two. 

" Will you come down an* 'ave a look at 'im, 
sir," inquired the cook. 

" You stay where you are, George," said Mrs. 
Bunnett shrilly, as her husband moved forward. 
*' Go farther off, cook." 

" And keep your tongue still when we get to 
port," said the mate. " Don't go blabbing it all 
over the place, mind, or we sha'n't get nobody to 
work us out." 

"Ay, ay," said the cook, moving off. " I ain't 
afraid of it — I've given it to people, but I've never 
took it myself yet." 

" I'm sure I wish I was off this dreadful ship," 
said Mrs. Fillson nervously. " Nothing but un- 
pleasantness. How long before we get to Sum- 
mercove, Cap'n Bunnett ? " 

" 'Bout a 'our an' a 'arf ought to do it," said the 

Both ladies sighed anxiously, and, going as far 
aft as possible, gazed eagerly at the harbour as it 
opened out slowly before them. 

" I shall go back by train," said Mrs. Bunnett. 
" It's a shame, having my holiday spoilt like this." 


" It's one o' them things what can't be helped," 
said her husband piously. 

" You'd had better give me a little money," con- 
tinued his wife. " I shall get lodgings in the town 
for a day or two, till I see how things are going." 

"It 'ud be better for you to get straight back 
home," said the skipper. 

" Nonsense," said his wife, sharply. " Suppose 
you take it yourself, I should have to be here to 
see you were looked after. I'm sure Mrs. Fillson 
isn't going home." 

Mrs. Fillson, holding out her hand to Mr. 
Fillson, said she was sure she wasn't. 

" It'd be a load of our minds if you did go," 
said the mate speaking for both. 

" Well, we're not going for a day or two at any 
rate," said Mrs. Bunnett, glancing almost amiably 
at Mrs. Fillson. 

In face of this declaration, and in view of the 
the persistent demands of the ladies, both men, 
with a very ill grace furnished them with some 

" Don't say a word about it ashore mind," said 
the mate, avoiding his chief's indignant gaze. 

" But you must have a doctor," said Mrs. 

" I know of a doctor here," said the mate ; 
" that's all arranged for." 

He moved away for a little private talk with 
the skipper, but that gentleman was not in a con- 


versational mood, and a sombre silence fell upon 
all until they were snugly berthed at Summercove, 
and the ladies, preceded by their luggage on a 
trolly, went off to look for lodgings. They sent 
down an hour later to say that they had found 
them, and that they were very clean and comfort- 
able, but a little more than they had intended to 
give. They implored their husbands not to run 
any unnecessary risks, and sent some disinfectant 
soap for them to wash with. 

For three days they kept their lodgings and be- 
came fast friends, going, despite their anxiety, for 
various trips in the neighbourhood. Twice a day 
at least they sent down beef-tea and other delica- 
cies for the invalid, which never got farther than 
the cabin, communication being kept up by a 
small boy who had strict injunctions not to go 
aboard. On the fourth day in the early morning 
they came down as close to the ship as they dared 
to bid farewell. 

" Write if there's any change for the worse," 
cried Mrs. Bunnett. 

" Or if you get it, George," cried Mrs. Fillson 

" It's all right, he's going on beautiful," said the 

The two wives appeared to be satisfied, and 
with a final adieu went off to the railway station, 
turning at every few yards to wave farewells until 
they were out of sight. 


" If ever I have another woman aboard my 
ship, George," said the skipper, " I'll run into 
something. Who's the old gentleman ? " 

He nodded in the direction of an elderly man 
with white side whiskers who, with a black bag in 
his hand, was making straight for the schooner. 

" Captain Bunnett ? " he inquired sharply. 

" That's me, sir," said the skipper. 

" Your wife sent me," said the tall man briskly. 
*' My name's Thompson — Dr. Thompson. She 
says you've got a case of small-pox on board which 
she wants me to see." 

" We've got a doctor," said the skipper and 
mate together. 

" So your wife said, but she wished me particu- 
larly to see the case," said Dr. Thompson. " It's 
also my duty as the medical officer of the port." 

" You've done it, George, you've done it," 
moaned the panic-stricken skipper reproach- 

" Well, anybody can make a mistake," whispered 
the mate back ; " an' he can't touch us, as it am'i 
small-pox. Let him come, and we'll lay it on to 
the cook. Say he made a mistake," 

" That's the ticket," said the skipper, and turned 
to assist the doctor to the deck as the mate hur- 
ried below to persuade the indignant boy to strip 
and go bed. 

In the midst of a breathless silence the doctor 
examined the patient ; then, to the surprise of all, 


he turned to the crew and examined them one 
after the other. 

"How long has this boy been ill?" he de- 

" About four days," said the puzzled skipper. 

" You see what comes of trying to hush this kind 
of thing up," said the doctor sternly. " You keep 
the patient down here instead of having him taken 
away and the ship disinfected, and now all these 
other poor fellows have got it." 

" W/iat ? " screamed the skipper, as the crew 
broke into profane expressions of astonishment 
and self-pity. " Got what ? " 

" Why, the small-pox," said the doctor. " Got 
it in its worst form too. Suppressed. There's not 
one of them got a mark on him. It's all inside." 

" Well, I'm damned," said the skipper, as the 
crew groaned despairingly. 

" What else did you expect ? " inquired the 
doctor wrathfuUy. " Well, they can't be moved 
now ; they must all go to bed, and you and the 
mate must nurse them." 

"And s'pose we catch it?" said the mate feel- 

" You must take your chance," said the doctor ; 
then he relented a little. " I'll try and send a 
couple of nurses down this afternoon," he added. 
" In the mean time you must do what you can for 

" Very good, sir," said the skipper brokenly. 


" All you can do at present," said the doctor as 
he slowly mounted the steps, " is to sponge them 
all over with cold water. Do it every half-hour till 
the rash comes out." 

" Very good," said the skipper again. " But 
you'll hurry up with the nurses, sir! " 

He stood in a state of bewilderment until the 
doctor was out of sight, and then, with a heavy 
sigh, took his coat off and set to work. 

He and the mate, after warning off the men 
who had come down to work, spent all the morn- 
ing in sponging their crew, waiting with an impa- 
tience born of fatigue for the rash to come out. 
This impatience was shared by the crew, the state 
of mind of the cook after the fifth sponging calling 
for severe rebuke on the part of the skipper. 

" I wish the nurses 'ud come, George," he said, 
as they sat on the deck panting after their exer- 
tions ; " this is a pretty mess if you like." 

" Seems like a judgment," said the mate wearily. 

" HuUoa, there," came a voice from the quay. 

Both men turned and looked up at the speaker. 

** Hulloa," said the skipper dully. 

" What's all this about small-pox ? " demanded 
the newcomer abruptly. 

The skipper waved his hand languidly towards 
the fo'c'sle. 

'• Five of 'em down with it," he said quietly. 
"Are you another doctor, sir? " 

Without troubling to reply their visitor jumped 


on board and went nimbly below, followed by the 
other two. 

" Stand out of the light," he said brusquely. 
'* Now, my lads, let's have a look at you." 

He examined them in a state of bewilderment, 
grunting strangely as the washed-out men sub- 
mitted to his scrutiny. 

'' They've had the best of cold sponging," said 
the skipper, not without a little pride. 

" Best of what ? " demanded the other. 

The skipper told him, drawing back indignantly 
as the doctor suddenly sat down and burst into a 
hoarse roar of laughter. The unfeeling noise 
grated harshly on the sensitive ears of the sick 
men, and Joe Burrows, raising himself in his bunk, 
made a feeble attempt to hit him. 

" You've been sold," said the doctor, wiping his 

" I don't take your meaning," said the skipper, 
with dignity. 

" Somebody's been having a joke with you," 
said the doctor. " Get up, you fools, you've got 
about as much small-pox as I have." 

" Do you mean to tell me " began the 


" Somebody's been having a joke with you, I 
tell you," repeated the doctor, as the men, with 
sundry oaths, half of relief, half of dudgeon, got 
out of bed and began groping for their clothes. 
" Who is it, do you think ? " 


The skipper shook his head, and the mate, 
following his lead, in duty bound, shook his ; but 
a little while after, as they sat by the wheel 
smoking and waiting for the men to return to 
work the cargo out, they were more confidential. 
The skipper removed his pipe from his mouth, 
and, having eyed the mate for some time in 
silence, jerked his thumb in the direction of the 
railway station. The mate, with a woe-begone 
nod, assented. 


The captain of the Fearless came on to the wharf 
in a manner more suggestive of deer-stalking than 
that of a prosaic shipmaster returning to his craft. 
He dodged round an empty van, lurked behind an 
empty barrel, fhtted from that to a post, and finally 
from the interior of a steam crane peeped melo- 
dramatically on to the deck of his craft. 

To the ordinary observer there was no cause for 
alarm. The decks were a bit slippery but not 
dangerous except to a novice ; the hatches were 
on, and in the lighted galley the cook might be 
discovered moving about in a manner indicative 
of quiet security and an untroubled conscience. 

With a last glance behind him the skipper 
descended from the crane and stepped lightly 

" Hist," said the cook, coming out quietly. "I've 
been watching for you to come." 

" Damned fine idea of watching you've got," 
said the skipper irritably. " What is it ? " 

The cook jerked his thumb towards the cabin. 

" He's down there," he said in a hoarse whisper. 

" The mate said when you came aboard you was 

just to go and stand near the companion and 


whistle 'God Save the Queen' and he'll come 
up to you to see what's to be done." 

" Whistle ! " said the skipper, trying to moisten 
his parched lips with his tongue. " I couldn't 
whistle just now to save my life." 

" The mate don't know what to do, and that 
was to be the signal," said the cook. " He's 

down there with him givin' 'im drink and amoosin' 

»• »» 


" Well, you go and whistle it," said the skipper. 

The cook wiped his mouth on the back of his 
hand. " Ow does it go ? " he inquired anxiously, 
" I never could remember toones." 

" Oh, go and tell Bill to do it ? " said the skipper 

Summoned noiselessly by the cook, Bill came 
up from the forecastle, and on learning what was 
required of him pursed up his lips and started 
our noble anthem with a whistle of such richness 
and volume that the horrified skipper was almost 
deafened with it. It acted on the mate like a 
charm, and he came from below and closed Bill's 
mouth, none too gently, with a hand which shook 
with excitement. Then, as quietly as possible, 
he closed the companion and secured the fasten- 

" He's all right," he said to the skipper breath- 
lessly. " He's a prisoner. He's 'ad four goes o' 
whisky, an' he seems inclined to sleep." 

" Who let him go down the cabin," demanded 


the skipper angrily, " It's a fine thing I can't 
leave the ship for an hour or so but what I come 
back and find people sitting all round my cabin." 

" He let hisself darn," said the cook, who saw a 
slight opening advantageous to himself in con- 
nection with a dish smashed the day before, " an' 
I was that surprised, not to say alarmed, that I 
dropped the large dish and smashed it." 

" What did he say ?" inquired the skipper. 

" The blue one, I mean," said the cook, who 
wanted that matter settled for good, " the one 
with the place at the end for the gravy to run 

" What did he say ? " vociferated the skipper. 

" 'E ses, ' 'ullo,' he ses, 'you've done it now, old 
man,' " replied the truthful cook. 

The skipper turned a furious face to the mate. 

" When the cook come up and told me," said 
the mate, in answer, " I see at once what was 
up, so I went down and just talked to him clever 

" I should like to know what you said," mut- 
tered the skipper. 

" Well, if you think you can do better than I 
did you'd better go down and see him," retorted 
the mate hotly. "After all, it's you what 'e come 
to see. He's your visitor." 

" No offence, Bob," said the skipper. " I didn't 
mean nothing." 

" I don't know nothin' o' horse racin'," con- 


tinued the mate, with an insufferable air, " and I 
never 'ad no money troubles in my life, bein' al- 
ways brought up proper at 'ome and warned of 
what would 'appen, but I know a sheriff's ofificer 
when I see 'im." 

" What am I to do ? " groaned the skipper, too 
depressed even to resent his subordinate's manner, 
" it's a judgment summons. It's ruin if he gets 

" Well, so far as I can see, the only thing for 
you to do is to miss the ship this trip," said the 
mate, without looking at him. '' I can take her 
out all right." 

" I won't," said the skipper, interrupting fiercely. 

"Very well, you'll be nabbed," said the mate. 

" You've been wanting to handle this craft a 
long time," said the skipper fiercely. " You could 
ha' got rid of him if you'd wanted to. He's no 
business down my cabin." 

" I tried everything I could think of," assev- 
erated the mate. 

" Well, he's come down on my ship without 
being asked," said the skipper fiercely, " and 
damme he can stay there. Cast off." 

" But," said the mate, " s'pose " 

" Cast off," repeated the skipper. " He's come 
on my ship, and I'll give him a trip free." 

" And where are you and the mate to sleep ? " 
inquired the cook, who was a man of pessimistic 
turn of mind and given to forebodings. 


" In your bunks," said the skipper brutally. 
" Cast off there." 

The men obeyed, grinning, and the schooner 
was soon threading her way in the darkness down 
the river, the skipper listening somewhat nerv- 
ously for the first intimation of his captive's 

He listened in vain that night, for the prisoner 
made no sign, but at six o'clock in the morning, 
when the Fearless, coming within sight of the 
Nore, began to dance like a cork upon the waters, 
the mate reported hollow groans from the cabin. 

" Let him groan," said the skipper briefly, " as 
holler as he likes." 

" Well, I'll just go down and see how he is," 
said the mate. 

" You stay where you are," said the skipper 

" Well, but you ain't going to starve the man ? " 

" Nothing to do with me," said the skipper 
ferociously ; " if a man likes to come down and 
stay in my cabin that's his business. I'm not 
supposed to know he's there, and if I like to lock 
my cabin up and sleep in a fo's'c'le what's got 
more fleas in than ten other fo'c's'les put together, 
and what smells worse than ten fo'c's'les rolled 
into one, that's my business." 

" Yes, but I don't want to berth for'ard too," 
grumbled the other. " He can't touch me. I can 
go and sleep in my berth." 


"You'll do what I wish, my lad," said the 

" I'm the mate," said the other darkly. 

" And I'm the master," said the other ; " if the 
master of a ship can stay down the fo'c's'le, I'm 
sure a tuppeny-ha'penny mate can." 

" The men don't like it," objected the mate. 

" Damn the men," said the skipper politely, 
" and as to starving the chap, there's a water- 
bottle full o' water in my state-room, to say 
nothing of a jug, and a bag o' biscuits under the 

The mate walked off whistling, and the skipper, 
by no means so easy in his mind as he pretended 
to be, began to consider ways and means out of 
the difficulty which he foresaw must occur when 
they reached port. 

" What sort o' looking chap is he ? " he inquired 
of the cook. 

" Big, strong-looking chap," was the reply. 

" Look as though he'd make a fuss if I sent you 
and Bill down below to gag him when we get to 
the other end ? " suggested the skipper. 

The cook said that judging by appearances 
" fuss " would be no word for it. 

" I can't understand him keeping so quiet," said 
the skipper, " that's what gets over me." 

" He's biding 'is time, I expect," said the cook 
comfortingly. " He's a 'ard looking customer, 
'sides which he's likely sea-sick." 


The day passed slowly, and as night approached 
a sense of mystery and discomfort overhung the 
vessel. The man at the wheel got nervous, and 
flattered Bill into keeping him company by asking 
him to spin him a yarn. He had good reason for 
believing that he knew his comrade's stock of 
stories by heart, but in the sequel it transpired 
that there was one, of a prisoner turning into a 
cat and getting out of the porthole and running 
up helmsmen's backs, which he hadn't heard 
before. And he told Bill in the most effective 
language he could command that he never wanted 
to hear it again. 

The night passed and day broke, and still the 
mysterious passenger made no sign. The crew 
got in the habit of listening at the companion and 
peeping through the skylight ; but the door of the 
state-room was closed, and the cabin itself as 
silent as the grave. The skipper went about with 
a troubled face, and that afternoon, unable to 
endure the suspense any longer, civilly asked the 
mate to go below and investigate. 

" I'd rather not," said the mate, shrugging his 

" I'd sooner he served me and have done with 
it," said the skipper. " I get thinking all sorts of 
awful things." 

" Well, why don't you go down yourself," said 
the mate. " He'd serve you fast enough, I've no 


" Well, it may be just his artfulness," said the 
skipper ; " an' I don't want to humour him if he's 
all right. I'm askin' it as a favour, Bob." 

" I'll go if the cook'll come," said the mate after 
a pause. 

The cook hesitated. 

" Go on, cook," said the skipper sharply ; " don't 
keep the mate waiting, and, whatever you do, don't 
let him come up on deck." 

The mate led the way to the companion, and, 
opening it quietly, led the way below, followed by 
the cook. There was a minute's awful suspense, 
and then a wild cry rang out below, and the couple 
came dashing madly up on deck again. 

" What is it ? " inquired the pallid skipper. 

The mate, leaning for support against the wheel, 
opened his mouth, but no words came ; the cook, 
his hands straight by his side and his eyes glassy, 
made a picture from which the crew drew back in 

"What's — the — matter?" said the skipper 

Then the mate, regaining his composure by an 
effort, spoke. 

" You needn't trouble to fasten the companion 
again," he said slowly. 

The skipper's face changed from white to grey. 
" Why not ? " he asked in a trembling voice. 
" He's dead," was the solemn reply. 
" Nonsense," said the other, with quivering lips. 


" He's shamming or else fainting. Did you try to 
bring him round ? " 

" I did not," said the mate. " I don't deceive 
you. I didn't stay down there to do no restoring, 
and I don't think you would either." 

" Go down and see whether you can wake him, 
cook," said the skipper. 

" Not me,"said the cook with a mighty shudder. 

Two of the hands went and peeped furtively 
down through the skylight. The empty cabin 
looked strangely quiet and drear, and the door of 
the state-room stood ajar. There was nothing to 
satisfy their curiosity, but they came back look- 
ing as though they had seen a ghost. 

" What's to be done ? " said the skipper, help- 

" Nothing can be done," said the mate. " He's 
beyond our aid." 

" I wasn't thinking about him,'' said the skipper. 

*' Well, the best thing you can do when we get 
to Plymouth is to bolt," said the mate. " We'll 
hide it up as long as we can to give you a start. 
It's a hanging matter." 

The hapless master of the Fearless wiped his 
clammy brow. " I can't think he's dead," he said 
slowly. " Who'll come down with me to see ? " 

"You'd better leave it alone," said the mate 
kindly, " it ain't pleasant, and besides that we can 
all swear up to the present that you haven't 
touched him or been near him." 

" Who'll come down with me ? " repeated the 


skipper. " I believe it's a trick, and that he'll 
start up and serve me, but I feel I must go." 

He caught Bill's eye, and that worthy seaman, 
after a short tussle with his nerves, shufifled after 
him. The skipper brushing aside the mate, who 
sought to detain him, descended first, and entering 
the cabin stood hesitating, with Bill close behind 

" Just open the door. Bill," he said slowly. 

" Arter you, sir," said the well-bred Bill. 

The skipper stepped slowly towards it and flung 
it suddenly open. Then he drew back with a 
sharp cry and looked nervously about him. The 
bed was empty. 

" Where's he gone? " whispered the trembling 

" The other made no reply, but in a dazed fash- 
ion began to grope about the cabin. It was a 
small place and soon searched, and the two men 
sat down and eyed each other in blank amazement. 

"Where is he? " said Bill at length. 

The skipper shook his head helplessly, and was 
about to ascribe the mystery to supernatural 
agencies, when the truth in all its naked simplicity 
flashed upon him, and he spoke. " It's the mate," 
he said slowly, " the mate and the cook. I see it 
all now; there's never been anybody here. It 
was a little job on the mate's part to get the ship. 
If you want to hear a couple o' rascals sized up, 
Bill, come on deck." 

And Bill, grinning in anticipation, went. 


The day was fine and the breeze so light 
that the old patched sails were taking the 
schooner :.long at a gentle three knots per hour. 
A sail or two shone like snow in the offing, and a 
gull hovered in the air astern. From the cabin to 
the galley, and from the galley to the untidy 
tangle in the bows, there was no sign of life to 
benefit by the conversation of the skipper and 
mate as they discussed a wicked and mutinous 
spirit which had become observable in the crew. 

" It's sheer, rank wickedness, that's what it is," 
said the skipper, a small, elderly man, with grizzled 
beard and light blue eyes. 

" Rank," agreed the mate, whose temperament 
was laconic. 

" Why, when I was a boy you wouldn't believe 
what I had to eat," said the skipper ; " not if I 
took my Bible oath on it, you wouldn't." 

" They're dainty," said the mate. 

" Dainty ! " said the other indignantly, " What 

right have hungry sailormen to be dainty? Don't 

I give them enough to eat ? Look ! Look 

there ! " 

He drew back, choking, and pointed with his 


forefinger as Bill Smith, A.B., came on deck with 
a plate held at arm's length, and a nose disdain- 
fully elevated. He affected not to see the skip- 
per, and, walking in a mincing fashion to the side, 
raked the food from the plate into the sea with 
his fingers. He was followed by George Simpson, 
A.B., who in the same objectionable fashion 
wasted food which the skipper had intended 
should nourish his frame. 

" I'll pay 'em for this," murmured the skipper. 

" There's some more," said the mate. 

Two more men came on deck, grinning con- 
sciously, and disposed of their dinners. Then 
there was an interval — an interval in which every- 
body fore and aft, appeared to be waiting for 
something ; the something being at that precise 
moment standing at the foot of the foc'sle ladder, 
trying to screw its courage up. 

" If the boy comes," said the skipper in a 
strained, unnatural voice, " I'll flay him alive." 

" You'd better get your knife out, then," said 
the mate. 

The boy appeared on deck, very white about 
the gills, and looking piteously at the crew for 
support. He became conscious from their scowls 
that he had forgotten something, and remember- 
ing himself, stretched out his skinny arms to their 
full extent, and, crinkling his nose, walked with 
great trepidation to the side. 

" Boy ! " vociferated the skipper suddenly. 


"Yessir," said the urchin hastily. 

" Comm'ere," said the skipper sternly. 

" Shove your dinner over first," said four low, 
menacing voices. 

The boy hesitated, then walked slowly towards 
the skipper. 

" What are you going to do with that dinner?" 
demanded the latter grimly. 

" Eat it," said the youth modestly. 

" What d'yer bring it on deck for, then ? " 
inquired the other, bending his brows on him. 

" I thought it would taste better on deck, sir," 
said the boy. 

" Taste better ! " growled the skipper ferociously. 
"Ain't it good?" 

" Yessir," said the boy. 

" Speak louder," said the skipper sternly. ** Is 
it very good ? " 

" Beautiful," said the boy in a shrill falsetto. 

" Did you ever taste better wittles than you get 
aboard this ship ?" demanded the skipper, setting 
him a fine example in loud speaking. 

" Never ! " yelled the boy, following it. 

" Everything as it should be ? " roared the 

" Better than it should be," shrilled the craven 

" Sit down and eat it," commanded the other. 

The boy sat on the cabin skylight, and, taking 
out his pocket-knife, began his meal with every 
appearance of enjoyment, the skipper, with his 


elbows on the side, and his legs crossed, regarding 
him serenely. 

" I suppose," he said loudly, after watching the 
boy for some time, " I s'pose the men threw theirs 
overboard becos they hadn't been used to such 
good food ? " 

" Yessir," said the boy. 

" Did they say so ? " bawled the other. 

The boy hesitated, and glanced nervously for- 
ward. " Yessir," he said at length, and shuddered 
as a low, ominous growl came from the crew. 
Despite his slowness the meal came to an end at 
last, and, in obedience to orders, he rose and took 
his plate forward, looking entreatingly at the crew 
as he passed them. 

" Come down below," said Bill, " we want to 
have a talk with you." 

" Can't," said the boy. " I've got my work to 
do. I haven't got time to talk." 

He stayed up on deck until evening, and then, 
the men's anger having evaporated somewhat, crept 
softly below, and climbed into his bunk. Simpson 
leaned over and made a clutch at him, but Bill 
pushed him aside. 

" Leave him alone," said he quietly, " we'll take 
it out of him to-morrow." 

For some time Tommy lay worrying over the 
fate in store for him, and then, yielding to fatigue, 
turned over and slept soundly until he was 
awakened some three hours later by the men's 


voices, and, looking out, saw that the lamp was 
alight and the crew at supper, listening quietly to 
Bill, who was speaking. 

" I've a good mind to strike, that's what I've a 
good mind to do," he said savagely, as, after an 
attempt at the butter, he put it aside and ate dry 

" An' get six months," said old Ned. " That 
won't do. Bill," 

" Are we to go a matter of six or seven days on 
dry biscuit and rotten taters ? " demanded the 
other fiercely. " Why, it's slow sooicide." 

" I wish one of you would commit sooicide," 
said Ned, looking wistfully round at the faces, 
"that 'ud frighten the old man, and bring him 
round a bit." 

" Well, you're the eldest," said Bill pointedly. 

" Browning's a easy death too," said Simpson 
persuasively, "you can't have much enjoyment in 
life at your age, Ned ? " 

" And you might leave a letter behind to the 
skipper, saying as 'ow you was drove to it by 
bad food," said the cook, who was getting ex- 

" Talk sense ! " said the old man very shortly. 

" Look here," said Bill suddenly, " I tell you 
what we can do : let one of us pretend to commit 
suicide, and write a letter as Slushey here ses, 
saying as 'ow we're gone overboard sooner than 
be starved to death. It 'ud scare the old man 


proper ; and p'raps he'd let us start on the other 
meat without eating up this rotten stuff first!" 

" How's it to be done ! " asked Simpson, staring. 

"Go an 'ide down the fore 'old," said Bill. 
" There's not much stuff down there. We'll take 
off the hatch when one of us is on watch to-night, 
and — whoever wants to — can go and hide down 
there till the old man's come to his senses. What 
do you think of it, mates?" 

" It's all right as an idea," said Ned slowly, " but 
who's going? " 

" Tommy," replied Bill simply. 

" Blest if I ever thought of him," said Ned ad- 
miringly, " did you, cookie ?" 

" Never crossed my mind," said the cook. 

" You see the best o' Tommy's going," said Bill, 
" is that the old man 'ud only give him a flogging 
if he found it out. We wouldn't split as to who 
put the hatch on over him. He can be there as 
comfortable as you please, do nothing, and sleep 
all day if he likes. O' course we don't know any- 
thing about it, we miss Tommy, and find the letter 
wrote on this table." 

The cook leaned forward and regarded his col- 
league favourably ; then he pursed his lips, and 
nodded significantly at an upper bunk from which 
the face of Tommy, pale and scared, looked 
anxiously down. 

" Halloa ! " said Bill, " have you heard what 
we've been saying?" 


" I heard you say something about going to 
drown old Ned," said Tommy guardedly. 

" He's heard all about it," said the cook severely. 
" Do you know where little boys who tell lies go 
to, Tommy ?" 

'* I'd sooner go there than down the fore 'old," 
said Tommy, beginning to knuckle his eyes. " I 
won't go. I'll tell the skipper." 

" No, you won't," said Bill sternly. " This is 
your punishment for them lies you told about us 
to-day, an' very cheap you've got off too. Now, get 
out o' that bunk. Come on afore I pull you out." 

With a miserable whimper the youth dived 
beneath his blankets, and, clinging frantically to 
the edge of his berth, kicked convulsively as he 
was lifted down, blankets and all, and accom- 
modated with a seat at the table. 

" Pen and ink and paper, Ned," said Bill. 

The old man produced them, and Bill, first 
wiping off with his coat-sleeve a piece of butter 
which the paper had obtained from the table, 
spread it before the victim. 

" I can't write," said Tommy sullenly. 

The men looked at each other in dismay. 

" It's a lie," said the cook. 

" I tell you I can't," said the urchin, becoming 
hopeful, " that's why they sent me to sea becos 
I couldn't read or write." 

" Pull his ear. Bill," said Ned, annoyed at these 
aspersions upon an honourable profession. 


" It don't matter," said Bill, calmly. " I'll 
write it for 'im ; the old man don't know my fist." 

He sat down at the table, and, squaring his 
shoulders, took a noisy dip of ink, and scratching 
his head, looked pensively at the paper. 

"Better spell it bad. Bill," suggested Ned. 

"Ay, ay," said the other. " 'Ow do you think 
a boy would spell sooicide, Ned ? " 

The old man pondered. " S-o-o-e-y-s-i-d-e," he 
said slowly. 

" Why, that's the right way, ain't it ? " inquired 
the cook, looking from one to the other. 

" We mustn't spell it right," said Bill, with his 
pen hovering over the paper. " Be careful, 

" We'll say killed myself instead," said the old 
man. " A boy wouldn't use such a big word as 
that p'raps." 

Bill bent over his work, and, apparently paying 
great attention to his friends' entreaties not to 
write it too well, slowly wrote the letter. 

" How's this?" he inquired, sitting back in his 

" ' Deer captin i take my pen in hand for the 
larst time to innform you that i am no more suner 
than heat the 'orrible stuff what you kail meet i 
have drownded miself it is a moor easy death than 
starvin' i 'ave left my clasp nife to bill an' my 
silver wotch to it is 'ard too dee so young tommie 
brown.' " 


" Splendid ! " said Ned, as the reader finished 
and looked inquiringly round. 

" I put in that bit about the knife and the 
watch to make it seem real," said Bill, with 
modest pride ; " but, if you like, I'll leave 'em to 
you instead, Ned." 

" I don't want 'em," said the old man generously. 

" Put your does on," said Bill, turning to the 
whimpering Tommy. 

" I'm not going down that fore 'old," said 
Tommy desperately. " You may as well know 
now as later on — I won't go." 

" Cookie," said Bill calmly, " just 'and me them 
does, will you ? Now, Tommy." 

" I tell you, I'm not going to," said Tommy. 

"An' that little bit o' rope, cookie," said Bill, 
" it's just down by your 'and. Now, Tommy." 

The youngest member of the crew looked from 
his clothes to the rope, and from the rope back to 
his clothes again. 

"How'm I goin' to be fed.'*" he demanded 
sullenly, as he began to dress. 

" You'll have a stone bottle o' water to take 
down with you an' some biskits," replied Bill, 
" an' of a night time we'll hand you down some 
o' that meat you're so fond of. Hide 'em behind 
the cargo, an' if you hear anybody take the hatch 
off in the day time, nip behind it yourself." 

" An' what about fresh air ? " demanded the 

"CHOICE spirits" 89 

" You'll 'ave fresh air of a night when the hatch 
is took off," said Bill. " Don't you worry, I've 
thought of everything." 

The arrangements being concluded, they waited 
until Simpson relieved the mate at the helm, and 
then trooped up on deck, half-pushing and half- 
leading their reluctant victim, 

" It's just as if he was going on a picnic," said 
old Ned, as the boy stood unwillingly on the deck, 
with a stone bottle in one hand and some biscuits 
wrapped up in an old newspaper in the other. 

" Lend a 'and, Bill, Easy does it." 

Noiselessly the two seamen took off the hatch, 
and, as Tommy declined to help in the pro- 
ceedings at all, Ned clambered down first to 
receive him. Bill took him by the scruff of the 
neck and lowered him down, kicking strongly, 
into the hold. 

" Have you got him ?" inquired Bill. 

" Yes," said Ned in a smothered voice, and, 
depositing the boy in the hold, hastily clambered 
up again, wiping his mouth. 

" Been having a swig at the bottle ? " inquired 

"Boy's heel," said Ned very shortly. " Get the 
hatch on." 

The hatch was replaced, and Bill and his fellow 
conspirator, treading quietly and not without some 
apprehension for the morrow, went below and 
turned in. Tommy, who had been at sea long 


enough to take things as he found them, curled up 
in the corner of the hold, and with his bottle as 
a pillow fell asleep. 

It was not until eight o'clock next morning 
that the master of the Sunbeam discovered that 
he was a boy short. He questioned the cook as 
he sat at breakfast. The cook, who was a very- 
nervous man, turned pale, set the coffee-pot down 
with a thump which upset some of the liquor, and 
bolted up on deck. The skipper, after shouting 
for him in some of the most alluring swear words 
known on the high seas, went raging up on deck, 
where he found the men standing in a little knot, 
looking very ill at ease. 

" Bill, " said the skipper uneasily, " what's the 
matter with that damned cook ? " 

" 'E's 'ad a shock, sir, " said Bill, shaking his 
head, " we've all 'ad a shock." 

" You'll have another in a minute, " said the 
skipper emotionally. "Where's the boy?" 

For a moment Bill's hardihood forsook him, and 
he looked helplessly at his mates. In their anxiety 
to avoid his gaze they looked over the side, and a 
horrible fear came over the skipper. He looked 
at Bill mutely, and Bill held out a dirty piece of 

The skipper read it through in a state of stupe- 
faction, then he handed it to the mate, who had 
followed him on deck. The mate read it and 
handed it back. 


" It's yours," he said shortly. 

" I don't understand it," said the skipper, shaking 
his head. " Why, only yesterday he was up on 
deck here eating his dinner, and saying it was the 
best meat he ever tasted. You heard him. Bob? " 

" I heard him, pore little devil ! " said the mate. 

" You all heard him," said the skipper. 

" Well, there's five witnesses I've got. He 
must have been mad. Didn't nobody hear him 
go overboard ? " 

" I 'eard a splash, sir, in my watch, " said Bill. 

" Why didn't you run and see what it was ? " 
demanded the other. 

"I thought it was one of the chaps come up to 
throw his supper overboard," said Bill simply. 

" Ah ! " said the skipper, biting his lip, " did 
you ? You're always going on about the grub. 
What's the matter with it ? " 

" It's pizon, sir, " said Ned, shaking his head. 
" The meat's awful. " 

" It's as sweet as nuts, " said the skipper. 
" Well, you can have it out of the other tank if 
you like. Will that satisfy you ? " 

The men brightened up a little and nudged 
each other. 

" The butter's bad too, sir," said Bill. 

" Butter bad !" said the skipper frowning, "how's 
that, cook ? " 

" I ain't done nothing to it, sir, " said the cook 


" Give 'em butter out o' the firkin in the cabin," 
growled the skipper. " It's my firm behef you'd 
been ill-using that boy, the food was delicious." 

He walked off, taking the letter with him, and, 
propping it up against the sugar-basin, made but 
a poor breakfast. 

For that day the men lived, as Ned put it, on 
the fat of the land, in addition to the other luxuries 
figgy duff, a luxury hitherto reserved for Sundays, 
being also served out to them. Bill was regarded 
as a big-brained benefactor of the human race; joy 
reigned in the foc'sle, and at night the hatch was 
taken off and the prisoner regaled with a portion 
which had been saved for him. He ate it ungrate- 
fully, and put churlish and inconvenient questions 
as to what was to happen at the end of the voyage. 

" We'll smuggle you ashore all right, " said 
Bill, " none of us are going to sign back in this 
old tub. I'll take you aboard some ship with 
me — Eh ? " 

" I didn't say anything," said Tommy un- 

To the wrath and confusion of the crew next 
day their commanding officer put them back on 
the old diet again. The old meat was again served 
out, and the grass-fed luxury from the cabin 
stopped. Bill shared the fate of all leaders when 
things go wrong, and, from being the idol of his 
fellows, became a butt for their gibes. 

"What about your little idea now? "grunted 

"CHOICE spirits" 93 

old Ned, scornfully, that evening as he broke his 
biscuit roughly with his teeth, and dropped it into 
his basin of tea. 

" You ain't as clever as you thought you was, 
Bill," said the cook with the air of a discoverer. 

" And there's that pore dear boy shut up in 
the dark for nothing," said Simpson, with some- 
what belated thoughtfulness. " An' cookie doing 
his work." 

"I'm not going to be beat," said Bill blackly, 
" the old man was badly scared yesterday. We 
must have another sooicide, that's all." 

" Let Tommy do it again," suggested the cook 
flippantly, and they all laughed. 

" Two on one trip'll about do the old man 
up, " said Bill, regarding the interruption un- 
favourably. " Now, who's going to be the next ? " 

" We've had enough o' this game," said Simpson, 
shrugging his shoulders, "you've gone cranky, 

" No, I ain't," said Bill ; " I'm not going to be 
beat, that's all. Whoever goes down they '11 have 
a nice, easy, lazy time. Sleep all day if he likes, 
and nothing to do. Vou ain't been looking very 
well lately, Ned." 

" Oh ? " said the old man coldly. 

" Well, settle it between you," said Bill care- 
lessly, " it's all one to me, which of you goes." 

" Ho, an' what about you ? " demanded Simp- 


"Me?" inquired Bill in astonishment. "Why, 
I've got to stay up here and manage it." 

"Well, we'll stay up and help you," said Simp- 
son derisively. 

Ned and the cook laughed,, Simpson joined in. 
Bill rose, and going to his bunk, fished out a pack 
of greasy cards from beneath his bedding. 

" Larst cut, sooicide," he said briefly. " I'm 
in it." 

He held the pack before the cook. The cook 
hesitated, and looked at the other two. 

*' Don't be a fool. Bill," said Simpson. 

" Why, do you funk it ? " sneered Bill. 

" It's a fool's game, I tell you," said Simpson. 

" Well, you 'elped me start it," said the other. 
" You're afraid, that's what you are, afraid. You 
can let the boy go down there, but when it comes 
to yourselves you turn chicken-'arted." 

*' All right," said Simpson recklessly, " let Bill 
'ave 'is way ; cut, cookie." 

Sorely against his better sense the cook 
complied, and drew a ten ; Ned, after much 
argument, cut and drew seven ; Simpson, with a 
king in his fist, leaned back on the locker and 
fingered his beard nonchalantly. " Go on. Bill," 
he said, " see what you can do," 

Bill took the pack and shuffled it. " I orter 
be able to beat seven," he said slowly. He 
handed the pack to Ned, drew a card, and the 
other three sat back and laughed boisterously. 


"Three!" said Simpson. ''Bravo, Bill! I'll 
write your letter for you ; he'd know your 
writing. What shall I say?" 

" Say what you like," retorted Bill, breathing 
hard as he thought of the hold. 

He sat back, sneering disdainfully, as the other 
three merrily sat down to compose his letter, 
replying only by a contemptuous silence when 
Simpson asked him whether he wanted any 
kisses put in. When the letter was handed over 
for his inspection he only made one remark. 

" I thought you could write better than that, 
George," he said haughtily. 

" I'm writing it for you," said Simpson. 

Bill's hauteur vanished, and he became his old 
self again. " If you want a plug in the eye, 
George," he said feelingly, " you've only got to 
say so, you know." 

His temper was so unpleasant that half the 
pleasure of the evening was spoiled, and instead 
of being conducted to his hiding-place with quips 
and light laughter, the proceedings were more 
like a funeral than anything else. The crowning 
touch to his ill-nature was furnished by Tommy, 
who upon coming up and learning that Bill was 
to be his room-mate, gave way to a fit of the 
most unfeigned horror. 

" There's another letter for you this morning," 
said the mate, as the skipper came out of his 
state-room buttoning up his waistcoat. 


" Another what ? " demanded the other, turning 

The mate jerked his thumb upwards. " Old 
Ned has got it," he continued, " I can't think 
what's come over the men." 

The skipper dashed up on deck, and mechanic- 
ally took the letter from Ned and read it 
through. He stood for some time like a man 
in a dream, and then stumbled down the foc'sle, 
and looked in all the bunks and even under 
the table, then he came up and stood by the 
hold with his head on one side. The men held 
their breath. 

" What's the meaning of all this ? " he demanded 
at length, sitting limply on the hatch, with his 
eyes down. 

" Bad grub, sir," said Simpson, gaining courage 
from his manner ; " that's what we'll have to 
say when we get ashore." 

"You're not to say a word about it?" said 
the other, firing up. 

" It's our dooty, sir," said Ned impressively. 

" Look here now," said the skipper, and he 
looked at the remaining members of the crew 
entreatingly. " Don't let's have no more suicides. 
The old meat's gone now, and you can start the 
other, and when we get to port I'll ship in some 
fresh butter and vegetables. But I don't want 
you to say anything about the food being bad, 
or about these letters when we get to port. I 


shall simply say the two of 'em disappeared, an' 
I want you to say the same." 

" It can't be done, sir," said Simpson, firmly. 

The skipper rose and walked to the side. 
" Would a fi'pun note make any difference?" he 
asked in a low voice. 

" It 'ud make a little difference," said Ned 

The skipper looked up at Simpson. On the 
face of Simpson was an expression of virtuous 
arithmetical determination. 

The skipper looked down again. " Or a fi'pun 
note each ? " he said, in a low voice. " I can't go 
beyond that." 

" Call it twenty pun and it's a bargain, ain't it, 
mates? " said Simpson. 

Ned said it was, and even the cook forgot his 
nervousness, and said it was evident the skipper 
must do the generous thing, and they'd stand by 

" Where's the money coming from ? " inquired 
the mate as the skipper went down to breakfast, 
and discussed the matter with him. " They 
wouldn't get nothing out of me ! " 

The skylight was open ; the skipper with a 
glance at it bent forward and whispered in his 

'' Wot ! " said the mate. He endeavoured to 
suppress his laughter with hot coffee and bacon, 
with the result that he had to rise from his seat, 


and stand patiently while the skipper dealt him 
some hearty thumps on the back. 

With the prospect of riches before them 
the men cheerfully faced the extra work ; the 
cook did the boy's, while Ned and Simpson did 
Bill's between them. When night came they re- 
moved the hatch again, and with a little curiosity 
waited to hear how their victims were progress- 

" Where's my dinner ? " growled Bill hungrily, 
as he drew himself up on deck. 

"Dinner!" said Ned, in surprise; "why, you 
ain't got none," 

" Wo^ ? " said Bill ferociously. 

" You see the skipper only serves out for three 
now," said the cook. 

" Well, why didn't you save us some ? " de- 
manded the other. 

" There ain't enough of it, Bill, there ain't in- 
deed," said Ned. " We have to do more work 
now, and there ain't enough even for us. You've 
got biscuit and water, haven't you ? " 

Bill swore at him. 

" I 've 'ad enough o' this," he said fiercely. "I'm 
coming up, let the old man do what he likes. I 
don't care." 

" Don't do that, Bill," said the old man per- 
suasively. " Everything's going beautiful. You 
was quite right what you said about the old man. 
We was wrong. He's skeered fearful, and he's 

"CHOICE spirits" 99 

going to give us twenty pun to say nothing about 
it when we get ashore." 

" I'm going to have ten out o' that," said Bill, 
brightening a little, " and it's worth it too. I get 
the 'orrors shut up down there all day." 

"Ay, ay," said Ned, with a side kick at the 
cook, who was about to question Bill's method of 

" The old man sucked it all in beautiful," said 
the cook. " He's in a dreadful way. He's got all 
your clothes and things, and the boy's, and he's 
going to 'and 'em over to your friends. It's the 
best joke I ever heard." 

" You're a fool ! " said Bill shortly, and lighting 
his pipe went and squatted in the bows to wrestle 
grimly with a naturally bad temper. 

For the ensuing four days things went on 
smoothly enough. The weather being fair, the 
watch at night was kept by the men, and regularly 
they had to go through the unpleasant Jack-in-the- 
box experience of taking the lid off Bill. The 
sudden way he used to pop out and rate them 
about his sufferings and their callousness was ex- 
tremely trying, and it was only by much persua- 
sion and reminder of his share of the hush-money 
that they could persuade him to return again to 
his lair at daybreak. 

Still undisturbed they rounded the Land's End. 
The day had been close and muggy, but towards 
night the wind freshened, and the schooner began 


to slip at a good pace through the water. The 
two prisoners, glad to escape from the stifling 
atmosphere of the hold, sat in the bows with an 
appetite which the air made only too keen for the 
preparations made to satisfy it. 

Ned was steering, and the other two men 
having gone below and turned in, there were 
no listeners to their low complaints about the 

" It's a fool's game. Tommy," said Bill, shaking 
his head. 

" Game ? " said Tommy, sniffing. " 'Ow are we 
going to get away when we get to Northsea?" 

"You leave that to me," said Bill. " Old Ned 
seems to ha' got a bad cough," he added. 

" He's choking, I should think," said Tommy, 
leaning forward. " Look ! he's waving his hand 
at us. 

Both sprang up hastily, but ere they could make 
any attempt to escape the skipper and mate 
emerged from the companion and walked towards 

" Look here," said the skipper, turning to the 
mate, and indicating the culprits with his hand ; 
" perhaps you'll disbelieve in dreams now." 

" 'Strordinary ! " said the mate, rubbing his eyes, 
as Bill stood sullenly waiting events, while the 
miserable Tommy skulked behind him. 

" I've heard o such things," continued the 
skipper, in impressive tones, " but I never ex- 


pected to see it. You can't say you haven't seen 
a ghost now, Bob." 

" 'Strordinary ! " said the mate, shaking his head 
again. " Lifelike ! " 

" The ship's haunted, Ned," cried the skipper in 
hollow tones. " Here's the sperrits o' Bill and the 
boy standing agin the windlass." 

The bewildered old seaman made no reply ; the 
smaller spirit sniffed and wiped his nose on his 
cuff, and the larger one began to whistle softly. 

" Poor things ! " said the skipper, after they 
had discussed these extraordinary apparitions for 
some time. " Can you see the windlass through 
the boy. Bob ? " 

" I can see through both of 'em," said the mate 

They stayed on deck a little longer, and then 
coming to the conclusion that their presence on 
deck could do no good, and indeed seemed only 
to embarrass their visitors, went below again, 
leaving all hands a prey to the wildest astonish- 

" Wot's 'is little game ? " asked Simpson, com- 
ing cautiously up on deck. 

" Damned if I know," said Bill savagely. 

" He don't really think you're ghosts ? " sug- 
gested the cook feebly. 

" O' course not," said Bill scornfully. " He's 
got some little game on. Well, I'm going to my 
bunk. You'd better come too. Tommy. We'll 


find out what it all means to-morrer, I've no 

On the morrow they received a little enlighten- 
ment, for after breakfast the cook came forward 
nervously to break the news that meat and vege- 
tables had only been served out for three. Con- 
sternation fell upon all. 

" I'll go an' see 'im," said Bill ravenously. 

He found the skipper laughing heartily over 
something with the mate. At the seaman's ap- 
proach he stepped back and eyed him coolly. 

" Mornin', sir," said Bill, shufifling up. " We'd 
like to know, sir, me an' Tommy, whether we can 
have our rations for dinner served out now same 
as before ? " 

" Dijincr ? " said the skipper in surprise. " What 
do you want dinner for ? " 

" Eat," said Bill, eyeing him reproachfully. 

" Eat ? " said the skipper. " What's the good 
o' giving dinner to a ghost ? Why you've got 
nowhere to put it." 

By dint of great self-control Bill smiled in a 
ghastly fashion, and patted his stomach. 

" All air," said the skipper turning away. 

" Can we have our clothes and things then ? " 
said Bill grinding his teeth. " Ned says as how 
you've got 'em." 

" Certainly not," said the skipper. " I take 'em 
home and give 'em to your next o* kin. That's 
the lav/, ain't it, Bob ? " 


" It is," said the mate. 

" They'll 'ave your effects and your pay up to 
the night you committed suicide," said the skip- 

" We didn't commit sooicide," said Bill ; " how 
could we when we're standing here ? " 

" Oh, yes, you did," said the other. " I've got 
your letters in my pocket to prove it ; besides, if 
you didn't I should give you in charge for deser- 
tion directly we get to port." 

He exchanged glances with the mate, and Bill, 
after standing first on one leg and then on the 
other, walked slowly away. For the rest of the 
morning he stayed below setting the smaller ghost 
a bad example in the way of language, and threat- 
enino- his fellows with all sorts of fearful punish- 

Until dinner time the skipper heard no more of 
them, but he had just finished that meal and lit 
his pipe when he heard footsteps on the deck, and 
the next moment old Ned, hot and angry, burst 
into the cabin. 

" Bill's stole our dinner, sir," he panted uncere- 

" Who ? " inquired the skipper coldly. 

" Bill, sir. Bill Smith," replied Ned. 

" Who ? " inquired the skipper more coldly than 

" The ghost o' Bill Smith," growled Ned, cor- 
recting himself savagely, " has took our dinner 


away, an' him an' the ghost o' Tommy Brown is 
a sitting down and boltin' of it as fast as they can 

" Well, I don't see what I can do," said the 
skipper lazily. " What'd you let 'em for ? " 

" You know what Bill is, sir," said Ned. " I'm 
an old man, cook's no good, and unless Simpson 
has a bit o' raw beef for his eyes, he won't be able 
to see for a week." 

" Rubbish ! " said the skipper jocularly. " Don't 
tell me, three men all afraid o' one ghost. I sha'n't 
interfere. Don't you know what to do ? " 

" No, sir," said Ned eagerly. 

" Go up and read the prayer-book to him, and 
he'll vanish in a cloud of smoke," said the skipper. 

Ned gazed at him for a moment speechlessly, 
and then going up on deck leaned over the side 
and swore himself faint. The cook and Simpson 
came up and listened respectfully, contenting 
themselves with an occasional suggestion when 
the old man's memory momentarily failed him. 

For the rest of the voyage the two culprits 
suffered all the inconvenience peculiar to a loss of 
citizenship. The skipper blandly ignored them, 
and on two or three occasions gave great offence 
by attempting to walk through Bill as he stood 
on the deck. Speculation was rife in the fo'c'sle 
as to what would happen when they got ashore, 
and it was not until Northsea was sighted that 
the skipper showed his hand. Then he appeared 


on deck with their effects done up neatly in two 
bundles, and pitched them on the hatches. The 
crew stood and eyed him expectantly. 

" Ned," said the skipper sharply. 

" Sir," said the old man. 

" As soon as we're made fast," said the other, 
" I want you to go ashore for me and fetch an 
undertaker and a policeman. I can't quite make 
up my mind which I want." 

" Ay, ay, sir," murmured the old man. 

The skipper turned away, and seizing the helm 
from the mate, took the ship in. He was so in- 
tent upon his business that he appeared not to 
notice the movements of Bill and Tommy as they 
edged nervously towards their bundles, and waited 
impatiently for the schooner to get alongside the 
quay. Then he turned to the mate and burst 
into a loud laugh as the couple, bending sud- 
denly, snatched up their bundles, and, clambering 
up the side, sprang ashore and took to their heels. 
The mate laughed, too, and a faint but mirthless 
echo came from the other end of the schooner. 


"There's no doubt about it," said the night 
watchman, " but what dissiphne's a very good 
thing, but it don't always act well. For in- 
stance, I ain't allowed to smoke on this wharf, so 
when I want a pipe I either 'ave to go over to the 
' Queen's 'ed,' or sit in a lighter. If I'm in the 
' Queen's 'ed,' I can look arter the wharf, an' once 
when I was sitting in a lighter smoking, the chap 
come aboard an' cast off afore I knew what he 
was doing, and took me all the way to Green- 
wich. He said he'd often played that trick on 

" The worst man for dissipline I ever shipped 
with was Cap'n Tasker, of the Lapwing. He'd 
got it on the brain bad. He was a prim, clean- 
shaved man except for a little side whisker, an' 
always used to try an' look as much like a naval 
officer as possible. 

" I never 'ad no sort of idea what he was like 

when I jined the ship, an' he was quite quiet and 

peaceable until we was out on the open water. 

Then the cloven hoof showed itself, an' he kicked 

one o' the men for coming on deck with a dirty 

face, an' though the man told him he never did 
1 06 


wash becos his skin was so delikit, he sent the 
bos'en to turn the hose on him. 

" The bos'en seemed to take a hand in every- 
thing. We used to do everything by his whistle, 
it was never out of his mouth scarcely, and I've 
known that man to dream of it o' nights, and sit 
up in his sleep an' try an' blow his thumb. He 
whistled us to swab decks, whistled us to grub, 
whistled us to every blessed thing. 

" Though we didn't belong to any reg'ler line, 
we'd got a lot o' passengers aboard, going to the 
Cape, an' they thought a deal o' the skipper. 
There was one young leftenant aboard who said 
he reminded him o' Nelson, an' him an' the skip- 
per was as thick as two thieves. Nice larky young 
chap he was, an' more than one o' the crew tried 
to drop things on him from aloft when he wasn't 

" Every morning at ten we was inspected by the 
skipper, but that wasn't enough for the leftenant, 
and he persuaded the old man to drill us. He 
said it would do us good an' amuse the passen- 
gers, an' we 'ad to do all sorts o' silly things with 
our arms an' legs, an' twice he walked the skipper 
to the other end of the ship, leaving twenty-three 
sailormen bending over touching their toes, an' 
wondering whether they'd ever stand straight 

" The very worst thing o' the lot was the boat- 
drill. A chap might be sitting comfortably at his 


grub, or having a pipe in his bunk, when the 
bos'en's whistle would scream out to him that the 
ship was sinking, an' the passengers drownding, 
and he was to come an' git the boats out an' save 
'em. Nice sort o' game it was, too. We had to 
run like mad with kegs o' water an' bags o' bis- 
cuit, an' then run the boats out an' launch 'em. 
All the men were told off to certain boats, an' the 
passengers too. The only difference was, if a pas- 
senger didn't care about taking a hand in the 
game, he didn't, but we had to. 

" One o' the passengers who didn't play was 
Major Miggens. He was very much agin it, 
an' called it tomfoolery; he never would go 
to his boat, but used to sit and sneer all the 

" ' It's only teaching the men to cut an' run,' he 
said to the skipper one day; 'if there ever was 
any need they'd run to the boats an' leave ug 
here. Don't tell me.' 

"'That's not the way I should ha' expected to 
hear you speak of British sailors, major,' ses the 
skipper rather huffy. 

" ' British sivcarers,' ses the major, sniflfing. 
'You don't hear their remarks when that whistle 
is blown. It's enough to bring a judgment on 
the ship.' 

" ' If you can point 'em out to me I'll punish 
'em,' says the skipper very warm. 

*' ' I'm not going to point 'em out,' ses the 


major, * I symperthise with 'em too much. They 
don't get any of their beauty sleep, pore chaps, 
an' they want it, every one of 'em.' 

" I thought that was a very kind remark o' the 
major to make, but o' course some of the wimmin 
larfed. I s'pose they think men don't want beauty 
sleep, as it's called. 

" I heard the leftenant symperthising with the 
skipper arter that. He said the major was simply 
jealous because the men drilled so beautifully, an* 
then they walked aft, the leftenant talking very 
earnest an' the skipper shaking his head at some- 
thing he was saying. 

" It was just two nights arter this. I'd gone 
below an' turned in when I began to dream that 
the major had borrowed the bosen's whistle an' 
was practising on it. I remember thinking in my 
sleep what a comfort it was it was only the major, 
when one of the chaps give me a dig in the back 
an' woke me. 

" 'Tumble up,' ses he, 'the ship's a-fire.' 

" I rushed up on deck, an' there was no mistake 
about who was blowing the whistle. The bell 
was jangling horrible, smoke was rolling up from 
the hatches, an' some of the men was dragging 
out the hose an' tripping up the passengers with 
it as they came running up on deck. The noise 
and confusion was fearful. ' 

" ' Out with the boats,' ses Tom Hall to me, 
* don't you hear the whistle ? ' 


" ' What, ain't we going to try an' put the fire 
out? ' I ses. 

" ' Obey orders,' ses Tom, ' that's what we've got 
to do, an' the sooner we're away the better. You 
know what's in. her.' 

" We ran to the boats then, an', I must say, we 
got 'em out well, and the very fust person to git 
into mine was the major in his piejammers; arter 
all the others was in we 'ad 'im out agin. He 
didn't belong to our boat, an' dissipline is dissi- 
pline any day. 

" Afore we could git clear o' the ship, however, 
he came yelling to the side an' said his boat had 
gone, an' though we prodded him with our oars 
he lowered himself over the side and dropped 

" Fortunately for us it was a lovely clear night ; 
there was no moon, but the stars were very bright. 
The engines had stopped, an' the old ship sat on 
the water scarcely moving. Another boat was 
bumping up against ours, and two more came 
creeping round the bows from the port side an' 
jined us. 

" ' Who's in command ? ' calls out the major. 

" ' I am,' ses the first mate very sharp-like from 
one of the boats. 

" 'Where's the cap'n then?' called out an old 
lady from my boat o' the name o' Prendergast. 

" ' He's standing by the ship,' ses the mate. 

" ' Doing what ? ' ses Mrs. Prendergast, looking 


at the water as though she expected to see the 
skipper standing there. 

" * He's going down with the ship,' ses one o' 
the chaps. 

" Then Mrs. Prendergast asked somebody to be 
kind enough to lend her a handkerchief, becos she 
had left her pocket behind aboard ship, and began 
to sob very bitter. 

" ' Just a simple British sailor,' ses she, snivel- 
ling, ' going down with his ship. There he is. 
Look! On the bridge.' 

" We all looked, an' then some o' the other 
wimmin wanted to borrer handkerchiefs. I lent 
one of 'em a little cotton waste, but she was so 
unpleasant about its being a trifle oily that she 
forgot all about crying, and said she'd tell the 
mate about me as soon as ever we got ashore. 

" ' I'll remember him in my prayers,' ses one o' 
the wimmin who was crying comfortable in a big 
red bandana belonging to one o' the men. 

" * All England shall ring with his deed,' ses 

" ' Sympathy's cheap,' ses one of the men pas- 
sengers solemnly. ' If we ever reach land we must 
all band together to keep his widow an' orphans.' 

" ' Hear, hear,' cries everybody. 

" ' And we'll put up a granite tombstone to his 
memory,' ses Mrs. Prendergast, 

" ' S'pose we pull back to the ship an' take him 
off,' ses a gentleman from another boat. ' I'm 


thinking it *ud come cheaper, an' perhaps the 
puir mon would really like it better himself.' 

" ' Shame,' ses most of 'em ; an' I reely b'leeve 
they'd worked theirselves up to that pitch they'd 
ha' felt disappointed if the skipper had been saved, 

" We pulled along slowly, the mate's boat lead- 
ing, looking back every now and then at the old 
ship, and wondering when she would go off, for 
she'd got that sort of stuff in her hold which 'ud 
send her up with a bang as soon as the fire got to 
it ; an' we was all waiting for the shock. 

" ' Do you know where we're going, Mr. Bunce,* 
calls out the major. 

" 'Yes,' ses the mate. 

" ' What's the nearest land ? ' asks the major. 

" ' Bout a thousand miles,' ses the mate. 

" Then the major went into figures, an' worked 
out that it 'ud take us about ten days to reach 
land and three to reach the bottom o' the water 
kegs. He shouted that out to the mate ; an' the 
young leftenant what was in the mate's boat 
smoking a big cigar said there'd be quite a run 
on granite tombstones. He said it was a blessed 
thing he had disinherited his children for marrying 
agin his wishes, so there wouldn't be any orphans 
left to mourn for him. 

" Some o' the wimmin smiled a little at this, an* 
old Mrs. Prendergast shook so that she made the 
boat rock. We got quite cheerful somehow, and 
one of the other men spoke up and said that 


owing to his only having reckoned two pints to 
the gallon, the major's figgers wasn't to be relied 

" We got more cheerful then, and we was 
beginning to look on it as just a picnic, when 
I'm blest if the mate's boat didn't put about and 
head for the ship agin. 

" There was a commotion then if you like, every- 
body talking and laughing at once ; and Mrs. 
Prendergast said that such a thing as one single- 
handed cap'n staying behind to go down with his 
ship, and then putting the fire out all by himself 
after his men had fled, had never been heard of 
before, an' she said it never would be again. She 
said he must be terribly burnt, and he'd have to be 
put to bed and wrapped up in oily rags. 

" It didn't take us long to get aboard again, and 
the ladies fairly mobbed the skipper. Tom Hall 
swore as 'ow Mrs. Prendergast tried to kiss him, an' 
the fuss they made of him was ridiculous. I heard 
the clang of the telegraph in the engine-room soon 
as the boats was hoisted up, the engines started, 
and off we went again. 

" ' Speech,* yells out somebody. ' Speech.' 

" ' Bravo ! ' ses the others. ' Bravo ! ' 

"Then the skipper stood up an' made 'em a nice 

little speech. First of all he thanked 'em for their 

partiality and kindness shewn to him, and the 

orderly way in which they had left the ship. He 

said it reflected credit on all concerned, crew and 


passengers, an* no doubt they 'd be surprised when 
he told them that there hadn't been any fire at all, 
but that it was just a test to make sure that the 
boat drill was properly understood. 

" He was quite right about them being surprised. 
Noisy, too, they was, an' the things they said about 
the man they'd just been wanting to give granite 
tombstones to was simply astonishing. It would 
have taken a whole cemetery o' tombstones to put 
down all they said about him, and then they'd ha' 
had to cut the letters small. 

" ' I vote we have an indignation meeting in the 
saloon to record our disgust at the cap'n's be- 
haviour,* ses the major fiercely. ' I beg to propose 
that Mr. Macpherson take the chair.' 

" * I second that,' ses another, fierce-like. 

" ' I beg to propose the major instead,' ses some- 
body else in a heavy off-hand sort o' way ; 
* Mr. Macpherson's boat not having come back 

" At first everybody thought he was joking, but 
when they found he was really speaking the truth 
the excitement was awful. Fortunately as Mrs. 
Prendergast remarked, there was no ladies in the 
boat, but there was several men passengers. We 
were doing a good thirteen knots an hour, but we 
brought up at once, an' then we 'ad the most lovely 
firework display I ever see aboard ship in my life. 
Blue lights and rockets and guns going all night, 
while we cruised slowly about, and the passengers 


sat on deck arguing as to whether the skipper 
would be hung or imprisoned for Hfe. 

" It was daybreak afore we sighted them, just a 
Httle speck near the sky-Hne, an' we bore down on 
them for all we was worth. Half an hour later 
they was alongside, an* of all the chilly, miserable- 
looking men I ever see they was the worst. 

" They had to be helped up the side a'most, and 
they was so grateful it was quite affecting, until 
the true state o' things was explained to them. It 
seemed to change 'em wonderful, an' after Mr. 
Macpherson had had three cups o' hot coffee an' 
four glasses o' brandy he took the chair at the 
indignation meeting, an' went straight off to sleep 
in it. They woke him up three times, but he was 
so cross about it that the ladies had to go away 
an' the meeting was adjourned. 

" I don't think it ever came to much after all, 
nobody being really hurt, an' the skipper being so 
much upset they felt sort o* sorry for 'im. 

"The rest of the passage was very quiet an' 
comfortable, but o' course it all came out at the 
other end, an' the mate brought the ship home. 
Some o' the chaps said the skipper was a bit wrong 
in the *ed, and, while I'm not gainsaying that, 
it's my firm opinion that he was persuaded to do 
what he did by that young leftenant. As I said 
afore, he was a larky young chap, an' very fond of 
a joke if he didn't have to pay for it." 


"I've got a friend coming down with us this 
trip, George," said the master of the Wave as they 
sat on deck after tea watching the river. " One of 
our new members, Brother Hutchins." 

" From the Mission, I s'pose ? " said the mate 

" From the Mission," confirmed the skipper. 
" You'll like him, George ; he's been one o' the 
greatest rascals that ever breathed." 

" Well, I don't know what you mean," said the 
mate, looking up indignantly. 

" He's 'ad a most interestin' life," said the 
skipper ; " he's been in half the jails of England. 
To hear 'im talk is as good as reading a book. 
And 'e's as merry as they make 'em." 

" Oh, and is 'e going to give us prayers afore 
breakfast like that fat-necked, white-faced old 
rascal what came down with us last summer and 
stole my boots ? " demanded the mate. 

" He never stole 'em, George," said the skipper. 

" If yo'd 'eard that man cry when I mentioned 

to 'im your unjust suspicions, you'd never have 

forgiven yourself. He told 'em at the meetin', an' 

they had prayers for you." 

"You an' your Mission are a pack o' fools," 


said the mate scornfully. " You're always being 
done. A man comes to you an' ses 'e's found 
grace, and you find 'im a nice, easy, comfortable 
living. 'E sports a bit of blue ribbon and a red 
nose at the same time. Don't tell me. You 
ask me why I don't join you, and I tell you 
it's because I don't want to lose my common 

" You'll know better one o' these days, George," 
said the skipper, rising. " I earnestly hope you'll 
'ave some great sorrow or affliction, something 
almost too great for you to bear. It's the only 
thing that'll save you." 

" I expect that fat chap what stole my boots 
would like to see it too," said the mate. 

" He would," said the skipper solemnly. " He 
said so." 

The mate got up, fuming and knocking his pipe 
out with great violence against the side of the 
schooner, stamped up and down the deck two 
or three times, and then, despairing of regaining 
his accustomed calm on board, went ashore. 

It was late when he returned. A light burnt 
in the cabin, and the skipper with his spectacles 
on was reading aloud from an old number of the 
Evangelical Magazine to a thin, white-faced man 
dressed in black. 

" That's my mate," said the skipper, looking up 
from his book. 

" Is he one of our band ? " inquired the stranger. 


The skipper shook his head despondently. 

" Not yet," said the stranger encouragingly. 

" Seen too many of 'em," said the mate bluntly. 
"The more I see of 'em, the less I like 'em. It 
makes me feel wicked to look at 'em." 

" Ah, that ain't you speaking now, it's the Evil 
One," said Mr. Hutchins confidently. 

" I s'pose you know 'im pretty well," said the 
mate simply. 

" I lived with him thirty years," said Mr. 
Hutchins solemnly, " then I got tired of him." 

" I should think he got a bit sick too," said the 
mate. " Thirty days 'ud ha' been too long for 

He went to his berth to give Mr. Hutchins 
time to frame a suitable reply and returned 
with a full bottle of whisky and a tumbler, and 
having drawn the cork with a refreshing pop, 
mixed himself a stiff glass and lit his pipe. 
Mr. Hutchins with a deep groan gazed re- 
proachfully at the skipper and shook his head 
at the bottle. 

" You know I don't like you to bring that 
filthy stuff in the cabin, George," said the 

" It's not for me," said the mate flippantly. 
" It's for the Evil One. He ses the sight of his 
old pal 'Utchins 'as turned his stomach." 

He glanced at the stranger and saw to his 
astonishment that he appeared to be struggling 


with a strong desire to laugh. His Hps tightened 
and his shifty httle eyes watered, but he conquered 
himself in a moment, and rising to his feet de- 
livered a striking address — in favor of teetotalism. 
He condemned whisky as not only wicked, but 
unnecessary, declaring with a side glance at the 
mate that two acidulated drops dissolved in 
water were an excellent substitute. 

The sight of the whisky appeared to madden 
him, and the skipper sat spell-bound at his 
eloquence, until at length, after apostrophising 
the bottle in a sentence which left him breath- 
less, he snatched it up and dashed it to pieces 
on the floor. 

For a moment the mate was struck dumb with 
fury, then with a roar he leaped up and rushed for 
the lecturer, but the table was between them, and 
before he could get over it the skipper sprang up 
and seizing him by the arm, pushed him into the 

" Lea' go," foamed the mate. " Let me get at 
" George," said the skipper, still striving with 
him, " I'm ashamed of you." 

" Ashamed, be damned," yelled the mate strug- 
gling. " What did he chuck my whisky away 
for ? " 

" He's a saint," said the skipper, relaxing his 
hold as he heard Mr. Hutchins lock himself in. 
" He's a saint, George. Seein' 'is beautiful words 


'ad no effect on you, he 'ad recourse to strong 

" Wait till I get hold of 'im," said the mate 
menacingly. " Only wait, I'll saint 'im." 

" Is he better, dear friend ? " came the voice of 
Mr. Hutchins from beyond the door, "because 
I forgot the tumbler." 

" Come out," roared the mate, " come out and 
upset it." 

Mr. Hutchins declined the invitation, but from 
behind the door pleaded tearfully with the mate 
to lead a better life, and even rebuked the skipper 
for allowing the bottle of sin to be produced in 
the cabin. The skipper took the rebuke humbly, 
and after requesting Mr. Hutchins to sleep in the 
state-room that night in order to frustrate the 
evident designs of the mate, went on deck for a 
final look round and then came below and turned 
in himself. 

The crew of the schooner were early astir next 
morning getting under way, but Mr. Hutchins 
kept his bed, although the mate slipped down to 
the cabin several times and tapped at his door. 
When he did come up the mate was at the wheel 
and the men down below getting breakfast. 

" Sleep well ? " inquired Mr. Hutchins softly, as 
he took a seat on the hatches, a little distance 
from him. 

" I'll let you know when I haven't got this 
wheel," said the mate sourly. 


" Do," said Mr. Hutchins genially. " We shall 
see you at our meeting to-night ? " he asked 

The mate disdained to reply, but his wrath 
when at Mr. Hutchins* request the cabin was 
invaded by the crew that evening, cannot be put 
into words. 

For three nights they had what Mr. Hutchins 
described as love-feasts, and the mate as blamed 
bear-gardens. The crew were not particularly 
partial to hymns, considered as such, but hymns 
shouted out with the full force of their lungs 
while sharing the skipper's hymn book appealed 
to them strongly. Besides, it maddened the 
mate, and to know that they were defying their 
superior, and at the same time doing good to 
their own souls, was very sweet. The boy, whose 
voice was just breaking, got off some surprising 
effects, and seemed to compass about five octaves 
without distress. 

When they were exhausted with singing Mr. 
Hutchins would give them a short address, 
generally choosing as his subject a strong, violent- 
tempered man given to drink and coarse language. 
The speaker proved conclusively that a man who 
drank would do other things in secret, and he 
pictured this man going home and beating his 
wife because she reproached him for breaking 
open the children's money-box to spend the 
savings on Irish whisky. At every point he 


made he groaned, and the crew, as soon as they 
found they might groan too, did so with extraor- 
dinary gusto, the boy's groans being weird 
beyond conception. 

They reached Plymouth where they had to put 
out a few cases of goods, just in time to save the 
mate's reason, for the whole ship, owing to Mr. 
Hutchins' zeal was topsy turvy. The ship's cat sat 
up all one night cursing him and a blue ribbon he 
had tied round her neck, and even the battered 
old tea-pot came down to meals bedizened with 
bows of the same proselytising hue. 

By the time they had got to their moorings it 
was too late to take the hatches off, and the crew 
sat gazing longingly at the lights ashore. Their 
delight when the visitor obtained permission for 
them to go ashore with him for a little stroll was 
unbounded, and they set off like schoolboys. 

" They couldn't be with a better man," said the 
skipper, as the party moved off ; " when I think of 
the good that man's done in under four days it 
makes me ashamed of myself." 

" You had better ship 'im as mate," said George. 
" There'd be a pair of you then." 

" There's greater work for 'im to do," said the 
skipper solemnly. 

He saw the mate's face in the waning light and 
moved off with a sigh. The mate, for his part, 
leaned against the side smoking, and as the skipper 
declined to talk on any subject but Mr. Hutchins, 


relapsed into a moody silence until the return of 
the crew some two hours later. 

" Mr. Hutchins is coming on after, sir," said the 
boy. " He told us to say he was paying a visit to 
a friend." 

" What's the name of the pub ? " asked the 
mate quietly. 

" If you can't speak without showing your nasty 
temper, George, you'd better hold your tongue," 
said the skipper severely. " What's your opinion 
about Mr. Hutchins, my lads?" 

" A more open 'arted man never breathed," said 
Dan, the oldest of the crew, warmly. 

" Best feller I ever met in my life," said another. 

" You hear that ? " said the skipper. 

" I hear," said the mate. 

"'E's a Christian," said the boy. "I never 
knew what a Christian was before I met 'im. 
What do you think 'e give us." 

" Give you ? " said the skipper. 

"A pound cash," said the boy. "A golden 
sovring each. Tork about Christians ! I wish I 
knew a few more of 'em." 

" Well I never ! " exclaimed the gratified 

" An' the way 'e did it was so nice," said the 
oldest seamen. " 'E ses, ' that's from me an ' the 
skipper,' 'e ses. ' Thank the skipper for it as 
much as me,' 'e ses." 

" Well now, don't waste it," said the skipper. 


" I should bank it if I was you. It'll make a nice 
little nest-egg." 

" I 'ope it was come by honest, that's all," said 
the mate. 

" O' course it was," cried the skipper. " You've 
got a 'ard, cruel 'art, George. P'raps if it 'ad 
been a little softer you'd 'ave 'ad one too." 

" Blast 'is sovrings," said the surly mate. " I'd 
like to know where he got 'em from, an' wot 'e 
means by saying it come from you as much as 
'im. I never knew yoii to give money away." 

" I s'pose," said the skipper very softly, " he 
means that I put such like thoughts into 'is 'art. 
Well, you'd better turn in, my lads. We start 
work at four." 

The hands went forward, and the skipper and 
mate descended to the cabin and prepared for 
sleep. The skipper set a lamp on the table ready 
for Mr.Hutchins when he should return, and after a 
short inward struggle bade the mate " good-night," 
and in a couple of minutes was fast asleep. 

At four o'clock the mate woke suddenly to find 
the skipper standing by his berth. The lamp still 
stood burning on the table, fighting feebly against 
the daylight which was pouring in through the sky- 

" Not turned up yet ? " said the mate, with a 
glance at the visitor's empty berth. 

The skipper shook his head spiritlessly and 
pointed to the table. The mate following his 
finger, saw a small canvas bag, and by the side of 


it fourpence halfpenny in coppers and an unknown 
amount in brace buttons. 

" There was twenty-three pounds freight money 
in that bag when we left London," said the skip- 
per, finding his voice at last. 

"Well, what do you think's become of it?" 
inquired the mate, taking up the lamp and blow- 
ing it out. 

" I can't think," said the skipper, " my 'ed's all 
confused. Bro — Mr. Hutchins ain't come back 

" I s'pose he was late and didn't like to disturb 
you," said the mate without moving a muscle, 
"but I've no doubt 'e's all right. Don't you 
worry about him." 

" It's very strange where it's gone, George," 
faltered the skipper, " very strange." 

" Well, 'Utchins is a generous sort o' chap," 
said the mate, " 'e give the men five pounds for 
nothing, so perhaps he'll give you something — 
when 'e comes back." 

" Go an' ask the crew to come down here," said 
the skipper, sinking on a locker and gazing at the 
brazen collection before him. 

The mate obeyed, and a few minutes afterwards 
returned with the men, who swarming into the 
cabin, listened sympathetically as the skipper 
related his loss. 

" It's a mystery which nobody can understand, 
sir," said old Dan when he had finished, " and it's 
no use tryin'." 


" One o* them things what won't never be 
cleared up properly," said the cook comfortably. 

" Well, I don't like to say it," said the skipper, 
" but I must. The only man who could have taken 
it was Hutchins." 

" Wot, sir," said Dan, " that blessed man ! Why, 
I'd laugh at the idea." 

" He couldn't do it," said the boy, " not if he 
tried he couldn't. He was too good." 

" He's taken that twenty-three poun'," said the 
skipper deliberately ; " eighteen, we'll call it, be- 
cause I'm goin' to have five of it back." 

" You're labourin' under a great mistake, sir," 
said Dan ambiguously. 

" Are you going to give me that money ? " said 
the skipper loudly. 

" Beggin' your pardon, sir, no," said the cook, 
speaking for the rest as he put his foot on the 
companion-ladder. " Brother 'Utchins gave us 
that money for singing them 'ims so well. 'E said 
so, and we ain't 'ad no call to think as it warn't 
honestly come by. Nothing could ever make us 
think that, would it, mates ? " 

" Nothing," said the others with exemplary 
firmness. " It couldn't be done." 

They followed the cook up on deck, and lean- 
ing over the side, gazed in a yearning fashion 
toward the place where they had last seen their 
benefactor. Then, with a sorrowful presentiment 
that they could never look upon his like again, they 
turned away and prepared for the labours of the day. 


The old man was dead, and his son Edward 
reigned in his stead. The old man had risen 
from an humble position in life ; his rule was easy, 
and his manner of conducting business eminently 
approved of by the rough old seamen who sailed 
his small craft round the coast, and by that sharp 
clerk Simmons, on whose discovery the old man 
was wont, at times, to hug himself in secret. The 
proceedings, when one of his skippers came home 
from a voyage, were severely simple. The skip- 
per would produce a bag, and, emptying it upon 
the table, give an account of his voyage ; when- 
ever he came to an expenditure, raking the sum 
out of the heap, until, at length, the cash was 
divided into two portions, one of which went to 
the owner, the other to the skipper. 

But other men other manners. The books 
of the inimitable Simmons being overhauled, re- 
vealed the startling fact that they were kept by 
single entry ; in addition to which, a series of dots 
and dashes appeared against the figures, forming 
a code, the only key to which was locked up 
somewhere in Simmons's interior. 

" It's a wonder the firm hasn't gone bankrupt 

long ago," said the new governor, after the clerk 



had explained the meaning of various signs and 
wonders. " What does this starfish against the 
entry mean ?" 

" It isn't a starfish, sir," said Simmons ; it means 
that one bag of sugar got wetted a Httle ; then, if 
the consigners notice it, we shall know we have 
got to allow for it." 

" A pretty way of doing business, upon my 
word. It'll all have to be altered," said the other, 
" I must have new ofifices too ; this dingy little 
hole is enough to frighten people away." 

The conversation was interrupted by the en- 
trance of Captain Fazackerly, of the schooner 
Sarah Ann, who, having just brought up in the 
river, had hastened to the ofifice to report. 

" Mornin', sir," said the captain respectfully ; 
" I'm glad to see you here, sir, but the office don't 
seem real like without your father sitting in it. 
He was a good master, and we're all sorry to lose 

" You're very good," said the new master some- 
what awkwardly. 

" I expect it'll take some time for you to get 
into the way of it," said the captain with a view 
to giving the conversation a more cheerful turn. 

" I expect it will," said the new master, thinking 
of the starfish. 

" It's a mercy Simmons was not took too," said 
the captain, shaking his head. " As it is, he's 
spared ; he'll be able to teach you. There ain't " 


■ — he lowered his voice, not wishing to make Sim- 
mons unduly proud — ** there ain't a smarter clerk 
in all Liverpool than wot he is." 

" I'm glad to hear it," said the new master, re- 
garding the old man with raised eyebrows, as he 
extricated a plethoric-looking canvas bag from his 
jacket pocket and dropped it with a musical crash 
on the chipped office table. His eyebrows went 
still higher, as the old man unfastened the string, 
and emptying the contents on to the table, knitted 
his brows into reflective wrinkles, and began to 
debit the firm with all the liabilities of a slow but 
tenacious memory. 

" Oh, come," said the owner sharply, as the old 
man lovingly hooked out the sum of five-and- 
sixpence as a first instalment, "this won't do, 
cap n. 

"Wot won't do, Mas'r Edward?" inquired the 
old man in surprise. 

" Why this way of doing business," said the 

other. " It's not business-like at all, you know." 

"Well, it's the way me an' your pore old 

father has done it this last thirty year," said the 

skipper, "an' I'm sure I've never knowingly 

cheated him out of a ha'penny ; and a better 

man o' business than your father never breathed." 

" Yes ; well, I'm going to do things a bit 

differently," said the new master. " You must 

give me a proper disbursement sheet, cap'n, if you 




"And what may that be?" inquired Captain 
Fazackerly as, with great slowness, he gathered, 
up the money and replaced it in the bag ; " I 
never heard of it afore." 

" Well, I haven't got time to teach you book- 
keeping," said the other, somewhat nettled at the 
old man's manner. " Can't you get some of your 
brother captains to show you ? Some deep-sea 
man would be sure to know." 

" I'll see what I can do, sir," said the skipper 
slowly as he turned towards the door. " My word 
was always good enough for your father." 

In a moody, indignant frame of mind he stuck 
his hands furiously in his trousers' pockets, and 
passed heavily through the swing-doors. At other 
times he had been wont to take a genial, if heavy 
interest in passing events ; but, in this instance, 
he plodded on, dwelling darkly upon his grievance, 
until he reached, by the mere force of habit, a 
certain favourite tavern. He pulled up sharply, 
and, as a mere matter of duty and custom, and 
not because he wanted it, went in and ordered a 
glass of gin. 

He drank three, and was so hazy in his replies 
to the young lady behind the bar, usually a prime 
favourite, that she took offence, and availing her- 
self, for private reasons, of a public weapon, coldly 
declined to served him with a fourth. 

" Wot ?" said the astounded Fazackerly, coming 
out of his haze. 


" You've had enough ! " said the girl firmly. 
"You get aboard again, and mind hoiv you do so!' 

The skipper gazed at her for a moment in open- 
mouthed horror, and then jamming his hat firmly 
over his brows, stumbled out of the door and into 
the street, where he ran full into the arms of 
another mariner who was just entering. 

" Why, Zacky, my boy," cried the latter, clap- 
ping him lustily on the back, how goes it ? " 

In broken indignant accents the other told him. 

" You come in with me," said the newcomer. 

" I'll never enter that pub again," said the 

" You come in with me," said the master-mind 

Captain Fazackerly hesitated a moment, and 
then, feeling that he was safe in the hands of the 
master of a foreign-going barque, followed him 
into the bar, and from behind his back glared 
defiantly at his fair foe. 

" Two glasses o' gin, my dear," said Captain 
Tweedie with the slightest possible emphasis. 

The girl, who knew her customer, served him 
without a murmur, deftly avoiding the gaze of 
ungenerous triumph with which the injured captain 
favoured her as he raised the cooling beverage to 
his lips. The glass emptied, he placed it on the 
counter and sighed despondently. 

"There's something up with you, Zacky," said 
Tweedie, eyeing him closely as he bit the end 


off a cigar ; " you've got something on your 

" I've been crool hurt," said his friend in a hard, 
cold voice. "My word ain't good enough for the 
new guv'nor ; he wants what he calls a disburse- 
ment sheet." 

" Well, give him one,"said Tweedie. "You know 
what it is, don't you ? " 

Captain Fazackerly shook his head, and pushing 
the glasses along the counter nodded for them to 
be refilled. 

"You come aboard with me," said Tweedie after 
they had emptied them. 

Captain Fazackerly, who had a doglike faith in 
his friend, followed him into the street and on to 
his barque. In a general way he experienced a 
social rise when he entered the commodious 
cabin of that noble craft, and his face grew in 
importance as his host, after motioning him to a 
seat, placed a select array of writing materials 
before him. 

" I s'pose I've got to do it," he said slowly. 

" Of course you have," said Tweedie, rolling his 
cigar between his thin lips ; " you've got orders to 
do so, haven't you ? We must all obey those above 
us. What would you do if one of your men refused 
to obey an order of yours ? " 

" Hit him in the face," said Captain Fazackerly 
with simple directness. 

" Just so," said Tweedie, who was always ready 


to impart moral teaching. " And when your 
governor asks for a disbursement sheet you've got 
to give him one. Now, then, head that paper — 
Voyage of the Sarah Ann, 180 tons register, 
Garston Docks to Limerick." 

The captain squared his elbows, and, for a few 
seconds, nothing was heard but his stertorous 
breathing and the scratching of the pen ; then a 
muttered execration, and Captain Fazackerly put 
down his pen with a woe-begone air. 

" What's the matter ? " said Tweedie. 

" I've spelt register without the ' d.' " said the 
other; " that's what comes o' being worried." 

*' It don't matter," said Tweedie hastily. " Now 
what about stores ? Wait a bit though ; of 
course ye repaired your side-lamps before start- 

" Lor', no ! " said Captain Fazackerly, staring ; 
"what for? They were all right." 

" Ye lie," said Tweedie sternly, '* you did ! To 
repairs to side-lamps, ten shillings. Now then, 
did you paint her this trip ? " 

" I did," said the other, looking at the last entry 
in a fascinated fashion. 

" Let's see," said Tweedie meditatively — " we'll 
say five gallons of black varnish at one shilling 
and threepence a gallon " 

" No, no," said the scribe ; " I used gas tar at 
threepence a gallon." 

" Five gallons black varnish, one shilling and 


threepence a gallon, six-and-threepence," said 
Tweedie, raising his voice a little ; '* have you 
got that down ? " 

After a prolonged struggle with his feelings the 
other said he had. 

" Twenty-eight pounds black paint at twopence 
a pound," continued Tweedie. 

" Nay, nay," said the skipper ; " I alius saves 
the soot out of the galley for that." 

The other captain took his cigar from his lips 
and gazed severely at his guest. 

" Am I dealing with a chimney-sweep or a ship's 
captain ? " he inquired plaintively ; " it would sim- 
plify matters a bit if I knew." 

" Go on, Captain Tweedie," said the other, turn- 
ing a fine purple colour; " how much did you say 
it was? " 

" Twenty-eight twos equals fifty-six ; that's four- 
and-ninepence," continued Tweedie, his face re- 
laxing to receive the cigar again ; " and twenty- 
eight pounds white lead at twenty-eight shillings 
a hundredweight " 

" Three penn'orth o' whiting's good enough for 
me, matey," said Captain Fazackerly, making a 

" See here," said Tweedie, "who's making out 
this disbursement sheet, you or me? " 

"■ You are," said the other. 

" Very good then," said his friend ; " now don't 
you interrupt. I don't mind telling you, you must 


never use rubbish o' that sort in a disbursement 
sheet. It looks bad for the firm. If any other 
owners saw that in your old man's sheet he'd 
never hear the end of it, and he'd never forgive 
you. That'll be — what did I say ? Seven shillings. 
And now we come to the voyage. Ye had a tug 
to give ye a pluck out to the bar." 

" No ; we went out with a fair wind," said 
Captain Fazackerly, toying with his pen. 

" Ye lie ; ye had a tug out to the bar," repeated 
Tweedie wearily, '' Did ye share the towing ? " 

" Why, no, I tell 'e " 

" That'll be three pounds then," said Tweedie. 

" If ye'd shared it it would have been two pound 
ten. You should always study your owner in 
these matters, cap'n. Now, what about bad 
weather ? Any repairs to the sails ? " 

" Ay, we had a lot o' damage," said Fazackerly, 
laying down his pen ; " it took us days to repair 
'em. Cost us four pounds. We had to put into 
Holyhead for shelter." 

" Four pounds," said Tweedie, his voice rising 
almost to a scream. 

" Ay, all that," said Fazackerly very solemnly. 

" Look here," said Tweedie in a choked voice. 
" Blown away fore lower topsail, forestaysail, and 
carried away lifts to staysail. To sailmaker for 
above, eleven pounds eighteen shillings and ten- 
pence. Then ye say ye put into Holyhead for 
shelter. Well, here in entering harbor we'll say 


loss of port anchor and thirty fathoms of chain 
cable " 

" Man alive," said the overwrought skipper, 
hitting the table heavily with his fist, " the old 
anchor's there for him to see." 

" To divers recovering same, and placing on 
deck, two pound ten," continued Tweedie, raising 
his voice. " Did you do any damage going into 
dock at Limerick?" 

" More than we've done for years," said Fa- 
zackerly, and shaking his head, entered into vol- 
uminous details; " total, seven pounds." 

" Seven pounds," said the exasperated Tweedie. 
" Seven pounds for all that, and your insurance 
don't begin till twenty-five pounds. Why, damme, 
you ain't fit to be trusted out with a ship. I 
firmly b'lieve if you lost her you'd send in a bill 
for a suit of clothes, and call it square. Now take 
this down, and larn a business way o' doing things. 
In entering dock, carried away starboard cathead 
and started starboard chain plates ; held survey 
of damage done : decided to take off channel 
bends, renew through bolts, straighten plates and 
replace same ; also to renew cathead and caulk 
ship's side in wake of plate, six seams, etc., etc. 
There, now, that looks better. Twenty-seven 
pounds eighteen and sevenpence halfpenny, and 
I think, for all that damage, it's a very reasonable 
bill. Can you remember anything else ? " 

"You've got a better memory than I have," 


said his admiring friend. " Wait a bit though ; 
yes, I had my poor old dog washed overboard." 

" Dog! " said the deep-sea man ; " we can't put 
dogs in a disbursement sheet. 'Tain't business." 

" My old master would have given me another 
one, though," grumbled Fazackerly. " I wouldn't 
ha* parted with that dog for anything. He knew 
as much as you or me, that dog did. I never 
knew him to bite an ofificer, but I don't think 
there was ever a man came on the ship but what 
he'd have a bit out of, sooner or later." 

" Them sort of dogs do get washed overboard," 
said Tweedie impatiently. 

" Boys he couldn't abear," pursued the other, in 
tones of tender reminiscence ; " the mere sight of 
a boarding-school of 'em out for a walk would 
give him hydrophoby almost." 

" Just so," said Tweedie. " Ah ! there's cork 
fenders ; ye may pick them up floating down the 
river, or they may come aboard in the night from 
a craft alongside ; they're changeable sort o' things, 
but in the disbursement sheet they must go, and 
best quality too, four-and-sixpence each. Any 
thing else ? " 

" There's the dog," said Fazackerly persist- 

" Copper nails, tenpence," said Tweedie the dic- 

" Haven't bought any for months," said the 
other, but slowly entering it. 



Well, it ain't exactly right," said Tweedie, 
shrugging his shoulders, " but you're so set on him 
going in." 

"Him? Who?" asked Captain Fazackerly, 

" The dog," said Tweedie ; " if he goes in as 
copper nails, he won't be noticed." 

" If he goes in as tenpence, I'm a Dutchman," 
said the bereaved owner, scoring out the copper 
nails. "You never knew that dog properly, 

" Well, never mind about the dog," said 
Tweedie ; " let's cast the sheet. What do you 
think it comes to ? " 

" 'Bout thirty pun'," hazarded the other. 

" Thirty fiddlesticks," retorted Tweedie ; "there 
you are in black and white — sixty-three pounds 
eighteen shillings and tenpence ha'penny." 

" And is that what Mas'r Edward wants ? " in- 
quired Captain Fazackerly gasping. 

" Yes ; that's a properly drawn up disbursement 
sheet," said Tweedie in satisfied tones. " You see 
how it simplifies matters. The governor can see 
at a glance how things stand, while, if you trusted 
to your memory, you might forget something, or 
else claim something you didn't have." 

" I ought to have had them things afore," said 
Captain Fazackerly, shaking his head solemnly. 
*' I'd ha' been riding in my carriage by now." 

" Never yc dream of having another vy'gQ with- 


out one," said Tweedie. " I doubt whether it's 
lawful to render an account without one." 

He folded the paper, and handed it to his friend, 
who, after inspecting it with considerable pride, 
tucked it carefully away in his breast pocket. 

" Take it up in the morning," said Tweedie. 
" We'll have a bit o' tea down here, and then we'll 
go round a bit afterwards." 

Captain Fazackerly having no objection, they 
had tea first, and then, accompanied by the first 
mate, went out to christen the disbursement sheet. 
The ceremony, which was of great length, was 
solemnly impressive towards the finish. Captain 
Tweedie, who possessed a very sensitive, highly- 
strung nature, finding it necessary to put a licensed 
victualler out of his own house before it could be 
completed to his satisfaction. 

The one thing which Captain Fazackerly re- 
membered clearly the next morning when he 
awoke was the disbursement sheet. He propped 
it against the coffee-pot during breakfast, and read 
selections to his admiring mate, and after a refresh- 
ing toilet, proceeded to the office. Simmons was 
already there, and before the skipper could get to 
the purpose of his visit, the head of the firm 

" I've just brought the disbursement sheet you 
asked for, sir," said the skipper, drawing it from 
his pocket. 

" Ah ! you've got it then," said the new gov- 


ernor, with a gracious smile ; " you see it wasn't 
so much trouble after all." 

" I don't mind the trouble, sir," interrupted 
Captain Fazackerly. 

" You see it puts things on a better footing," 
said the other, " I can see at a glance now how 
things stand, and Simmons can enter the items 
straight away into the books of the firm. It's 
more satisfactory to both of us. Sit down, 
cap n. 

The captain sat down, his face glowing with 
this satisfactory recognition of his work. 

" I met Cap'n Hargreaves as I was a-coming 
up," he said ; " and I explained to him your ideas 
on the subject, an' he went straight back, as 
straight as he could go, to make out his disburse- 
ment sheet." 

" Ah ! we shall soon have things on a better 
footing now," said the governor, unfolding the 
paper, while the skipper gazed abstractedly 
through the small, dirty panes of the ofifice win- 
dow at the bustle on the quay below. 

For a short space there was silence in the ofifice, 
broken only by the half-audible interjections of 
the reader. Then he spoke. 

" Simmons ! " he said sharply. 

The old clerk slipped from his stool, and obey- 
ing the motions of his employer, inspected, in 
great astonishment, the first disbursement sheet 
which had ever entered the ofifice. He read 


through every item in an astonished whisper, and, 
having finished, followed the governor's example 
and gazed at the heavy figure by the window. 

" Captain Fazackerly," said his employer, at 
length, breaking a painful silence. 

" Sir," said the captain, turning his head a little. 

" I've been talking with Simmons about these 
disbursement sheets," said the owner, somewhat 
awkwardly ; " Simmons is afraid they'll give him 
a lot of extra trouble." 

The captain turned his head a little more, and 
gazed stolidly at the astonished Simmons. 

" A man oughtn't to mind a little extra trouble 
if the firm wishes it," he said, somewhat severely. 

" He's afraid it would throw his books out a 
bit," continued the owner, deftly avoiding the gaze 
of the injured clerk. "You see, Simmons' book- 
keeping is of the old-fashioned kind, cap'n, star- 
fishes and all that kind of thing," he continued, 
incoherently, as the gaze of Simmons, refusing to 
be longer avoided, broke the thread of his dis- 
course. " So I think we'll put the paper on the 
fire, cap'n, and do business in the old way. Have 
you got the money with you ? " 

" I have, sir," said Fazackerly, feeling in his 
pocket, as he mournfully watched his last night's 
work blazing up the chimney. 

" Fire away, then," said the owner, almost 

Captain Fazackerly advanced to the table, and 


clearing his throat, fixed his eyes in a reflective 
stare on the opposite wall, and commenced : — 

" Blown away fore lower topsail, fore-staysail, 
and carried away lifts to staysail. To sailmaker 
for above, eleven pounds eighteen shillings and 
tenpence," he said, with relish. " Tug out to the 
bar, three pounds. To twenty-eight pounds black 
soot, I mean paint " 


The long summer day had gone and twilight 
was just merging into night. A ray of light from 
the lantern at the end of the quay went trembling 
across the sea, and in the little harbour the dusky 
shapes of a few small craft lay motionless on the 
dark water. 

The master of the schooner Harebell came 
slowly towards the harbour, accompanied by his 
mate. Both men had provided ashore for a voy- 
age which included no intoxicants, and the dignity 
of the skipper, always a salient feature, had de- 
veloped tremendously under the influence of 
brown stout. He stepped aboard his schooner 
importantly, and then, turning to the mate, who 
was about to follow, suddenly held up his hand 
for silence. 

" What did I tell you ? " he inquired severely as 
the mate got quietly aboard. 

" About knocking down the two policemen ? " 
guessed the mate, somewhat puzzled. 

" No," said the other shortly. " Listen." 

The mate listened. From the fo'c's'le came the 
low, gruff voices of men, broken by the silvery 
ripple of women's laughter. 



" Well, I'm a Dutchman," said the mate with 
the air of one who felt he was expected to say 

" After all I said to 'em," said the skipper with 
weary dignity. " You 'eard what I said to 'em, 

" Nobody could ha' swore louder," testified the 

" An' here they are," said the skipper in amaze, 
" defying of me. After all I said to 'em. After 
all the threats I — I employed." 

" Employed," repeated the mate with relish. 

" They've been and gone and asked them 
females down the fo'c's'le again. You know what 
I said I'd do, Jack, if they did." 

" Said you'd eat 'em without salt," quoted the 
other helpfully. 

" I'll do worse than that. Jack," said the skipper 
after a moment's discomfiture. " What's to hinder 
us casting off quietly and taking them along with 

" If you ask me," said the mate, " I should say 
you couldn't please the crew better." 

*' Well, we'll see," said the other, nodding 
sagely ; " don't make no noise. Jack." 

He set an example of silence himself, and aided 
by the mate, cast off the warps which held his 
unconscious visitors to their native town, and the 
wind being off the shore, the little schooner drifted 
silently away from the quay. 


The skipper went to the wheel, and the noise of 
the mate hauling on the jib brought a rough head 
out of the fo'c's'le, the owner of which, after a cry 
to his mates below, sprang up on deck and looked 
round in bewilderment. 

" Stand by, there ! " cried the skipper as the 
others came rushing on deck. " Shake 'em out." 

" Beggin' your pardin', sir," said one of them 
with more politeness in his tones than he had ever 
used before, " but " 

" Stand by ! " said the skipper. 

" Now then ! " shouted the mate sharply, " lively 
there ! Lively with it ! " 

The men looked at each other helplessly and 
went to their posts as a scream of dismay arose 
from the fair beings below who, having just begun 
to realise their position, were coming on deck to 
try and improve it. 

" What ! " roared the skipper in pretended as- 
tonishment, " what ! gells aboard after all I said. 
It can't be ; I must be dreaming ! " 

" Take us back ! " wailed the damsels, ignoring 
the sarcasm, " take us back, captain." 

" No, I can't go back," said the skipper. "You 
see what comes o' disobedience, my gells. Lively 
there on that mains'l, d'ye hear ? " 

" We won't do it again," cried the girls, as the 
schooner came to the mouth of the harbour and 
they smelt the dark sea beyond. " Take us 


" It can't be done," said the skipper cheerfully. 

" It's agin the lor, sir," said Ephraim Biddle 

" What ! Taking my own ship out ? " said the 
skipper in affected surprise. " How was I to know 
they were there ? I'm not going back ; 'tain't 
likely. As they've made their beds so they must 
lay on 'em." 

" They ain't got no beds," said George Scott 
hastily. " It ain't fair to punish the gals for us, 

" Hold your tongue," said the skipper sharply. 

" It's agin the lor, sir," said Biddle again. " If 
so be they're passengers, this ship ain't licensed 
to carry passengers. If so be as they're took out 
agin their will, it's abduction — I see the other day 
a chap had seven years for abducting one gal, 
three sevens — three sevens is — three sevens is, 
well, it's more years than you'd like to be in 
prison, sir." 

" Bosh," said the skipper, " they're stowaways, 
an' I shall put 'em ashore at the first port we 
touch at — Plymouth." 

A heartrending series of screams from the stow- 
aways rounded his sentence, screams which gave 
way to sustained sobbing, as the schooner, catch- 
ing the wind, began to move through the water. 

" You'd better get below, my gals," said Biddle, 
who was the eldest member of the crew, con- 


" Why don't you make him take us back ? " 
said Jenny Evans, the biggest of the three girls, 

" 'Cos we can't, my dear," said Biddle reluc- 
tantly ; " it's agin the lor. You don't want to see 
us put into prison, do you ? " 

" I don't mind," said Miss Evans tearfully, " so 
long as we get back. George, take us back." 

" I can't," said Scott sullenly. 

" Well, you can look for somebody else, then," 
said Miss Evans with temper. " You won't marry 
me. How much would you get if you did make 
the skipper put back ? " 

"Very likely six months," said Biddle solemnly. 

" Six months would soon pass away," said Miss 
Evans briskly, as she wiped her eye. 

" It would be a rest," said Miss Williams coax- 

The men not seeing things in quite the same 
light, they announced their intention of having 
nothing more to do with them, and crowding to- 
gether in the bows beneath two or three blankets, 
condoled tearfully with each other on their 
misfortunes. For some time the men stood by 
offering clumsy consolations, but tired at last of 
repeated rebuffs and insults went below and turned 
in, leaving the satisfied skipper at the wheel. 

The night was clear and the wind light. As 
the effects of his libations wore off the skipper 
had some misgivings as to the wisdom of his ac- 


tion, but it was too late to return, and he resolved 
to carry on. 

Looking at all the circumstances of the case he 
thought it best to keep the wheel in his own hands 
for a time, and the dawn came in the early hours 
and found him still at his post. 

Objects began to stand out clearly in the grow- 
ing light, and three dispirited girls put their heads 
out from the blankets and sniffed disdainfully at 
the sharp morning air. Then after an animated 
discussion they arose, and casting their blankets 
aside, walked up to the skipper and eyed him 

" As easy as easy," said Jenny Evans confidently, 
as she drew herself up to her full height, and 
looked down at the indignant man. 

" Why, he isn't any bigger than a boy," said 
Miss Williams savagely. 

" Pity we didn't think of it before," said Miss 
Davies. " I s'pose the crew won't help him ? " 

" Not they," said Miss Evans scornfully. " If 
they do, we'll serve them the same." 

They went off, leaving the skipper a prey to 
gathering uneasiness, watching their movements 
with wrinkled brow. From the forecastle and the 
galley they produced two mops and a broom, and 
he caught his breath sharply as Miss Evans came 
on deck with a pot of white paint in one hand and 
a pot of tar in the other. 

" Now, girls," said Miss Evans. 


" Put those things down," said the skipper in 
a peremptory voice. 

"Sha'n't," said Miss Evans bluntly. "You 
haven't got enough on yours," she said, turning 
to Miss Davies. " Don't spoil the skipper for 
a ha'porth of tar." 

At this new version of an old saw they laughed 
joyously, and with mops dripping tar and paint on 
the deck, marched in military style up to the 
skipper, and halted in front of him, smiling 

Then the heart of the skipper waxed sore faint 
within him, and, with a wild yell, he summoned 
the trusty crew to his side. 

The crew came on deck slowly, and casting 
furtive glances at the scene, pushed Ephraim 
Biddle to the front. 

" Take those mops away from 'em," said the 
skipper haughtily. 

" Don't you interfere," said Miss Evans, looking 
at them over her shoulder. 

" Else we'll give you some," said Miss Williams 

" Take those mops away from *em ! " bawled the 
skipper, instinctively drawing back as Miss Evans 
made a pass at him. 

" I don't see as 'ow we can interfere, sir," said 
Biddle with deep respect. 

" IV/mt ! " said the astonished skipper. 

" It would be agin the lor for us to interfere with 


people," said Biddle, turning to his mates, "dead 
agin the lor." 

" Don't you talk rubbish," said the skipper 
anxiously. " Take 'em away from 'em. It's my 
tar and my paint, and " 

" You shall have it," said Miss Evans reassur- 

" If we touched 'em," said Biddle impressively, 
" it'd be an assault at lor. 'Sides which, they'd 
probably muss us up with 'em All we can do, 
sir, is to stand by and see fair play." 

" Fair play ! " cried the skipper dancing with 
rage, and turning hastily to the mate, who had 
just come on the scene. " Take those things away 
from 'em, Jack." 

" Well, if it's all the same to you," said the 
mate, " I'd rather not be drawn into it." 

" But I'd rather you were," said the skipper 
sharply. " Take 'em away." 

" How?" inquired the mate pertinently. 

" I order you to take 'em away," said the skipper. 
" How, is your affair." 

" I'm not goin' to raise my hand against a 
woman for anybody," said the mate with decision. 
" It's no part o' my work to get messed up with 
tar an' paint from lady passengers." 

" It's part of your work to obey me, though," 
said the skipper, raising his voice ; " all of you. 
There's five of you, with the mate, and only three 
gells. What are you afraid of ? " 


" Are you going to take us back ? " demanded 
Jenny Evans. 

" Run away," said the skipper with dignity. 
" Run away." 

" I shall ask you three times," said Miss Evans 
sternly. " One — are you going back ? Two — • 
are you going back ? Three " 

In the midst of a breathless silence she drew 
within striking distance, while her allies taking 
up a position on either flank of the enemy, 
listened attentively to the instructions of their 

" Be careful he doesn't catch hold of the mops," 
said Miss Evans, " but if he does the others are to 
hit him over the head with the handles. Never 
mind about hurting him." 

" Take this wheel a minnit. Jack," said the 
skipper, pale but determined. 

The mate came forward and took it unwillingly, 
and the skipper, trying hard to conceal his trepida- 
tion, walked towards Miss Evans and tried to quell 
her with his eye. The power of the human eye is 
notorious, and Miss Evans showed her sense of the 
danger she ran by making an energetic attempt to 
close the skipper's with her mop, causing him to 
duck with amazing nimbleness. At the same 
moment another mop loaded with white paint was 
pushed into the back of his neck. He turned 
with a cry of rage, and then realising the odds 
against him flung his dignity to the winds and 


dodged with the agility of a schoolboy. Through 
the galley and round i:he masts with the avenging 
mops in mad pursuit, until breathless and ex- 
hausted he suddenly sprang on to the side and 
climbed frantically into the rigging. 

" Coward ! " said Miss Evans, shaking her weapon 
at him. 

" Come down," cried Miss Williams. " Come 
down like a man." 

" It's no good wasting time over Jiimy said Miss 
Evans, after another vain appeal to the skipper's 
manhood. " He's escaped. Get some more stuff 
on your mops." 

The mate, who had been laughing boisterously, 
checked himself suddenly, and assumed a gravity 
of demeanour more in accordance with his 
position. The mops were dipped in solemn 
silence, and Miss Evans approaching regarded 
him significantly. 

" Now, my dears," said the mate, waving his 
hand with a deprecating gesture, " don't be silly." 

" Don't be xvJiat ? " inquired the sensitive Miss 
Evans raising her mop. 

" You know what I mean," said the mate 
hastily. " I can't help myself." 

" Well, we're going to help you," said Miss 
Evans. "Turn the ship round." 

" You obey orders, Jack," cried the skipper 
from aloft. 

" It's all very well for you sitting up there 


in peace and comfort," said the mate indignantly. 
" I'm not going to be tarred to please you. 
Come down and take charge of your ship." 

" Do your duty, Jack," said the skipper, who 
was polishing his face with a handkerchief. 
" They won't touch you. They daren't. They're 
afraid to." 

" You're egging 'em on," cried the mate wrath- 
fully. " I won't steer ; come and take it yourself." 

He darted behind the wheel as Miss Evans, who 
was getting impatient, made a thrust at him, and 
then, springing out, gained the side and rushed up 
the rigging after his captain. Biddle, who was 
standing close by, gazed earnestly at them and 
took the wheel. 

"You won't hurt old Biddle, I know," he said, 
trying to speak confidently. 

" Of course not," said Miss Evans emphatically. 

" Tar don't hurt," explained Miss Williams. 

" It's good for you," said the third lady posi- 
tively. " One — two " 

" It's no good," said the mate as Ephraim came 

suddenly into the rigging; "you'll have to give 

• >» 

« I'm if I will," said the infuriated skipper. 

Then an idea occurred to him, and puckering his 
face shrewdly he began to descend. 

''All right," he said shortly, as Miss Evans 
advanced to receive him. " I'll go back." 

He took the wheel ; the schooner came round 


before the wind, and the willing crew, letting the 
sheets go, hauled them in again on the port side. 

" And now, my lads," said the skipper with a 
benevolent smile, " just clear that mess up off the 
decks, and you may as well pitch them mops 
overboard. They'll never be any good again." 

He spoke carelessly, albeit his voice trembled a 
little, but his heart sank within him as Miss 
Evans, with a horrible contortion of her pretty 
face, intended for a wink, waved them back. 

" You stay where you are," she said imperiously ; 
" we'll throw them overboard — when we've done 
with them. What did you say. Captain ? " 

The skipper was about to repeat it with great 
readiness when Miss Evans raised her trusty mop. 
The words died away on his lips, and after a 
hopeless glance from his mate to the crew and 
from the crew to the rigging, he accepted his 
defeat, and in grim silence took them home again. 


There was a sudden uproar on deck, and angry 
shouts accompanied by an incessant barking ; the 
master of the brig ArctJnisa stopped with his 
knife midway to his mouth, and exchanging 
glances with the mate, put it down and rose to 
his feet. 

" They're chevying that poor animal again," he 
said hotly. " It's scandalous." 

" Rupert can take care of himself," said the 
mate calmly, continuing his meal. " I expect, if 
the truth's known, it's him's been doin' the 

" You're as bad as the rest of 'em," said the 
skipper angrily, as a large brown retriever came 
bounding into the cabin. " Poor old Rube ! what 
have they been doin' to you?" 

The dog, with a satisfied air, sat down panting 
by his chair, listening quietly to the subdued hub- 
bub which sounded from the companion. 

" Well, what is it ? " roared the skipper, patting 
his favourite's head. 

'' It's that blasted dawg, sir," cried an angry 
voice from above. " Go down and show 'im your 
leg, Joe." 



" An"ave another lump took out of it, I s'pose," 
said another voice sourly. " Not me." 

" I don't want to look at no legs while I'm at 
dinner," cried the skipper. " O' course the dog'U 
bite you if you've been teasing him." 

" There's nobody been teasing 'im," said the 
angry voice again. " That's the second one 'e's 
bit, and now Joe's goin' to have 'im killed — ain't 
you, Joe?" 

Joe's reply was not audible, although the in- 
furiated skipper was straining his ears to catch 

" Who's going to have the dog killed ? " he de- 
manded, going up on deck, while Rupert, who 
evidently thought he had an interest in the pro- 
ceedings, followed unobtrusively behind. 

" I am, sir," said Joe Bates, who was sitting on 
the hatch while the cook bathed an ugly wound 
in his leg. " A dog's only allowed one bite, and 
he's 'ad two this week." 

" He bit me on Monday," said the seaman who 
had spoken before. " Now he's done for hisself." 

" Hold your tongue ! " said the skipper angrily. 
" You think you know a lot about the law, Sam 
Clark ; let me tell you a dog's entitled to have as 
many bites as ever he likes, so as he don't bite the 
same person twice." 

" That ain't the way I've 'eard it put afore," 
said Clark, somewhat taken back. 

" He's the cutest dog breathing," said the 


skipper fondly, " and he knows all about it. He 
won't bite either of you again." 

" And wot about them as 'asn't been bit yet, 
sir?" inquired the cook. 

" Don't halloo before you're hurt," advised the 
skipper. " If you don't tease him he won't bite 

He went down to his dinner, followed by the 
sagacious Rupert, leaving the hands to go forward 
again, and to mutinously discuss a situation which 
was becoming unbearable. 

" It can't go on no longer, Joe," said Clark 
firmly ; " this settles it." 

" Where is the stuff ? " inquired the cook in a 

" In my chest," said Clark softly. " I bought it 
the night he bit me." 

" It's a risky thing to do," said Bates. 

"'Ow risky?" asked Sam scornfully. "The 
dog eats the stuff and dies. Who's going to say 
what he died of ? As for suspicions, let the old 
man suspect as much as he likes. It ain't proof." 

The stronger mind had its way, as usual, and 
the next day the skipper, coming quietly on deck, 
was just in time to see Joe Bates throw down 
a fine fat bloater in front of the now amiable 
Rupert. He covered the distance between him- 
self and the dog in three bounds, and seizing it by 
the neck, tore the fish from its eager jaws and 
held it aloft. 


" I just caught 'im in the act ! " he cried, as the 
mate came on deck. " What did you give that to 
my dog for ? " he inquired of the conscience- 
stricken Bates. 

" I wanted to make friends with him," stam- 
mered the other. 

" It's poisoned, you rascal, and you know it," 
said the skipper vehemently. 

" Wish I may die, sir," began Joe. 

" That'll do," said the skipper harshly. " You've 
tried to poison my dog." 

" I ain't," said Joe firmly. 

" You ain't been trying to kill 'im with a poi' 
soned bloater?" demanded the skipper. 

" Certainly not, sir," said Joe. " I wouldn't do 
such a thing. I couldn't if I tried." 

" Very good then," said the skipper ; " if it's all 
right you eat it, and I'll beg your pardon." 

" I ain't goin' to eat after a dog," said Joe, 

" The dog's as clean as you are," said the skip- 
per. " I'd sooner eat after him than you." 

" Well, you eat it then, sir," said Bates des- 
perately. " If it's poisoned you'll die, and I'll be 
'ung for it. I can't say no fairer than that, can 

There was a slight murmur from the men, who 
stood by watching the skipper with an air of un- 
holy expectancy. 

" Well, the boy shall eat it then," said the skip- 


per. " Eat that bloater, boy, and I'll give you 

The boy came forward slowly, and looking from 
the men to the skipper, and from the skipper back 
to the men, began to whimper. 

" If you think it's poisoned," interrupted the 
mate, " you oughtn't to make the boy eat it. I don't 
like boys, but you must draw the line somewhere." 

" It's poisoned," said the skipper, shaking it at 
Bates, "and they know it. Well, I'll keep it till 
we get to port, and then I'll have it analysed. 
And it'll be a sorry day for you. Bates, when I 
hear it's poisoned. A month's hard labour is what 
you'll get." 

He turned away and went below with as much 
dignity as could be expected of a man carrying a 
mangled herring, and placing it on a clean plate, 
solemnly locked it up in his state-room. 

For two days the crew heard no more about it, 
though the skipper's eyes gleamed dangerously 
each time that they fell upon the shrinking Bates. 
The weather was almost tropical, with not an air 
stirring, and the Areihusa, bearing its dread secret 
still locked in its state-room, rose and fell upon a 
sea of glassy smoothness without making any 
progress worth recording. 

" I wish you'd keep that thing in your berth, 
George," said the skipper, as they sat at tea the 
second evening ; " it puts me in a passion every 
time I look at it." 


" I couldn't think of it, cap'n," replied the mate 
firmly ; " it makes me angry enough as it is. 
Every time I think of 'em trying to poison that 
poor dumb creature I sort o' choke. I try to for- 
get it." 

The skipper, eyeing him furtively, helped him- 
self to another cup of tea. 

" You haven't got a tin box with a lid to it, I 
s'pose ? " he remarked somewhat shamefacedly. 

The mate shook his head. " I looked for one 
this morning," he said. " There ain't so much as 
a bottle aboard we could shove it into, and it 
wants shoving into something — bad, it does." 

" I don't like to be beat," said the skipper, shak- 
ing his head. " All them grinning monkeys 
for'ard 'ud think it a rare good joke. I'd throw 
it overboard if it wasn't for that. We can't keep 
it this weather." 

" Well, look 'ere ; 'ere's a way out of it," said 
the mate. " Call Joe down, and make him keep 
it in the fo'c's'le and take care of it." 

" Why, you idiot, he'd lose it ! " rapped out the 
other impatiently. 

" O' course he would," said the mate ; " but 
that's the most dignerified way out of it for you. 
You can call 'im all sorts of things, and abuse 'im 
for the rest of his life. They'll prove themselves 
guilty by chucking it away, won't they ? " 

It really seemed the only thing to be done. The 
skipper finished his tea in silence, and then going 


on deck called the crew aft and apprised them of 
his intentions, threatening them with all sorts of 
pains and penalties if the treasure about to be 
confided to their keeping should be lost. The 
cook was sent below for it, and, at the skipper's 
bidding, handed it to the grinning Joe. 

"And mind," said the skipper as he turned 
away, " I leave it in your keepin', and if it's miss- 
ing I shall understand that you've made away 
with it, and I shall take it as a sign of guilt, and 
act according." 

The end came sooner even than he expected. 
They were at breakfast next morning when Joe, 
looking somewhat pale, came down to the cabin, 
followed by Clark, bearing before him an empty 

" Well ? " said the skipper fiercely. 

" It's about the 'erring, sir," said Joe, twisting 
his cap between his hands. 

" Well ? " roared the skipper again. 

" It's gone, sir," said Joe, in bereaved accents. 

" You mean you've thrown it away, you infernal 
rascal ! " bellowed the skipper. 

" No, sir," said Joe. 

" Ah ! I s'pose it walked up on deck and 
jumped overboard," said the mate. 

" No, sir," said Joe softly. " The dog ate it, 

The skipper swung round in his seat and re- 
garded him open-mouthed. 


" The — dog — ate — it ? " he repeated. 

" Yes, sir ; Clark saw 'im do it — didn't you, 

" I did," said Clark promptly. He had made 
his position doubly sure by throwing it over- 
board himself. 

" It comes to the same thing, sir," said Joe 
sanctimoniously; "my innercence is proved just 
the same. You'll find the dog won't take no 'urt 
through it, sir. You watch 'im." 

The skipper breathed hard, but made no reply. 

" If you don't believe me, sir, p'r'aps you'd like 
to see the plate where 'e licked it? "said Joe. 
" Give me the plate, Sam." 

He turned to take it, but in place of handing it 
to him that useful witness dropped it and made 
hurriedly for the companion-ladder, and by stren- 
uous efforts reached the deck before Joe, although 
that veracious gentleman, assisted from below by 
strong and willing arms, made a good second. 


E's a nero, that's wot 'e is, sir," said the cook, 
as he emptied a boiler of dirty water overboard. 

" A what ? " said the skipper. 

" A nero," said the cook, speaking very slowly 
and distinctly, " A nero in real life, a chap wot, 
speaking for all for'ard, we're proud to have 
aboard along with us." 

" I didn't know he was much of a swimmer," 
said the skipper, glancing curiously at a clumsily- 
built man of middle age, who sat on the hatch 
glancing despondently at the side. 

" No more 'e ain't," said the cook, "an' that's 
what makes 'im more 'eroish still in my own 

''Did he take his clothes off?" inquired the 

" Not a bit of it," said the delighted cook ; 
" not a pair of trowsis, nor even 'is 'at, which was 

" You're a liar, cook," said the hero, looking up 
for a moment. 

" You didn't take your trowsis off, George ? " 
said the cook anxiously. 

" I chucked my 'at on the pavement," growled 

George, without looking up. 



" Well, anyway, you went over the embankment 
after that pore girl like a Briton, didn't you?" 
said the other. 

There was no reply. 

" Didn't you ? " said the cook appealingly. 

" Did you expect me to go over like a Dutch- 
man, or wot?" demanded George fiercely. 

" That's 'is modesty," said the cook, turning to 
the others with the air of a showman. " 'E can't 
bear us to talk about it. Nearly drownded 'e 
was. All but, and a barge came along and shoved 
a boat-hook right through the seat of his trowsis 
an' saved 'im. Stand up an' show 'em your 
trowsis, George." 

" If I do stand up," said George, in a voice 
broken with rage, "it'll be a bad day for you, my 

''Ami he modest ? " said the cook. " Don't it 
do you good to 'ear 'im. He was just like that 
when they got him ashore and the crowd started 
patting him." 

" Didn't like it?" queried the mate. 

" Well, they overdid it a little, p'r'aps," admit- 
ted the cook ; " one old chap wot couldn't get near 
patted 'is 'ead with 'is stick, but it was all meant 
in the way of kindness." 

" I'm proud of you, George," said the skipper 

" We all are," said the mate. 

George grunted. 


" I'll write for the medal for him," said the 
skipper. " Were there any witnesses, cook ? " 

" Heaps of 'em," said the other ; " but I gave 
'em 'is name and address. * Schooner y^f/^;z Henry, 
of Limehouse, is 'is home,' I ses, and George 
Cooper 'is name 

" You talked a damned sight too much," 
said the hero, " you lean, lop-sided son of a 

" There s 'is modesty ag'in,^ said the cook, with 
a knowing smile. " 'E's busting with modesty, is 
George. You should ha' seen 'im when a chap 
took 'is fortygraph." 

" Took his what ? " said the skipper, becoming 

" His fortygraph," said the cook. " 'E was a 
young chap what was taking views for a noose- 
paper. 'E took George drippin' wet just as 'e 
come out of the water, 'e took him arter 'e 'ad 'is 
face wiped, an' 'e took 'im when 'e was sitting up 
swearing at a man wot asked 'im whether 'e was 
very wet." 

"An' you told 'im where I lived, and what I 
was," said George, turning on him and shaking his 
f^st. " You did." 

" I did," said the cook simply. " You'll live to 
thank me for it, George." 

The other gave a dreadful howl, and rising from 
the deck, walked forward and went below, giving 
a brother seaman who patted his shoulder as he 


passed a blow in the ribs, which nearly broke them. 
Those on deck exchanged glances. 

" Well, I don't know," said the mate, shrugging 
his shoulders ; " seems to me if I'd saved a fel- 
low-critter's life I shouldn't mind hearing about 

" That's what you think," said the skipper, 
drawing himself up a little. " If ever you do do 
anything of the kind perhaps you'll feel different 
about it." 

" Well, I don't see how you should know any 
more than me," said the other. 

The skipper cleared his throat. 

" There have been one or two little things in my 
life which I'm not exactly ashamed of," he said 

"That ain't much to boast of," said the mate, 
wilfully misunderstanding him. 

" I mean," said the skipper sharply, " one or two 
things which some people might have been proud 
of. But I'm proud to say that there isn't a living 
soul knows of 'em." 

" I can quite believe that," assented the mate, and 
walked off with an irritating smile. 

The skipper was about to follow him, to com- 
plain of the needless ambiguity of his remarks, 
when he was arrested by a disturbance from the 
fo'c'sle. In response to the cordial invitation of 
the cook, the mate and one of the hands from the 
brig Endeavour, moored alongside, had come 


aboard and gone below to look at George. The 
manner in which they were received was a slur 
upon the hospitality of the JoJin Henry ; and they 
came up hurriedly, declaring that they never 
wanted to see him again as long as they lived, and 
shouting offensive remarks behind them as they 
got over the side of their own vessel. 

The skipper walked slowly to the fo'c'sle and 
put his head down. 

" George," he shouted. 

" Sir," said the hero gruffly. 

" Come down into the cabin," said the other, 
turning away. " I want to have a little talk with 

George rose, and, first uttering some terrible 
threats against the cook, who bore them with 
noble fortitude, went on deck and followed the 
skipper to the cabin. 

At his superior's request he took a seat on the 
locker, awkwardly enough, but smiled faintly as 
the skipper produced a bottle and a couple of 

" Your health, George," said the skipper, as he 
pushed a glass towards him and raised his own. 

" My bes' respec's, sir," said George, allowing 
the liquor to roll slowly round his mouth before 
swallowing it. He sighed heavily, and, putting his 
empty glass on the table, allowed his huge head to 
roll on his chest. 

" Saving life don't seem, to agree with you. 


George," said the skipper. " I like modesty, but 
you seem to me to carry it a trifle too far." 

" It ain't modesty, sir," said George ; " it's that 
fortygraph. When I think o' that I go 'ot all 

" I shouldn't let that worry me if I was you, 
George," said the other kindly. " Looks ain't 

" I didn't mean it that way," said George very 
sourly. " My looks is good enough for me. In 
fact, it is a partly owing to my looks, so to speak, 
that I'm in a mess." 

" A little more rum, George ? " said the skipper, 
whose curiosity was roused. " I don't want to 
know your business, far from it. But in my 
position as cap'n, if any of my crew gets in 
a mess I consider it's my duty to lend them a 
hand out of it, if I can." 

" The world 'ud be a better place if there was 
more like you," said George, waxing sentimental 
as he sniffed delicately at the fragrant beverage. 
" If that noosepaper, with them pictures, gets into 
a certain party's 'ands, I'm ruined." 

" Not if I can help it, George," said the 
skipper with great firmness. " How do you mean 
ruined ? " 

The seaman set his glass down on the little 
table, and, leaning over, formed a word with his 
lips, and then drew back slowly and watched the 


" What ? " said the skipper. 

The other repeated the performance, but beyond 
seeing that some word of three syllables was 
indicated the skipper obtained no information. 

" You can speak a little louder," he said, some- 
what crustily. 

" Bigamy ! " said George, breathing the word 

" You ? " said the skipper. 

George nodded. " And if my first only gets 
hold of that paper, and sees my phiz and reads 
my name, I'm done for. There's my reward for 
saving a fellow-critter's life. Seven years." 

" I'm surprised at you, George," said the 
skipper sternly. " Such a good wife as you've 
got too." 

" I ain't saying nothing agin number two," 
grumbled George. " It's number one that didn't 
suit. I left her eight years ago. She was a bad 
'un. I took a y'y'gc to Australia furst, just to put 
her out o' my mind a bit, an' I never seed her 
since. Where am I if she sees all about me in the 
paper ! " 

" Is she what you'd call a vindictive woman ? " 
inquired the other. " Nasty-tempered, I mean." 

" Nasty-tempered," echoed the husband of two. 
" If that woman could only have me put in jail 
she'd stand on 'er 'ead for joy." 

"Well, I'll do what I can for you if the worst 
comes to the worst," said the skipper. You'd 


better not say anything about this to anybody 

" Not me," said George fervently, as he rose, 
" an' o' course you " 

" You can rely on me," said the skipper in his 
most stately fashion. 

He thought of the seaman's confidence several 
times during the evening, and, being somewhat 
uncertain of the law as to bigamy, sought informa- 
tion from the master of the Endeavour as they sat 
in the latter's cabin at a quiet game of cribbage. 
By virtue of several appearances in the law courts 
with regard to collisions and spoilt cargoes this 
gentleman had obtained a knowledge of law which 
made him a recognized authority from London 
Bridge to the Nore. 

It was a delicate matter for the master of the 
John Henry to broach, and, with the laudable de- 
sire of keeping the hero's secret, he approached it 
by a most circuitous route. He began with a 
burglary, followed with an attempted murder, and 
finally got on the subject of bigamy, via the 
" Deceased Wife's Sister Bill." 

" What sort o' bigamy ? " inquired the master 
of the brig. 

" Oh, two wives," said Captain Thomsett. 

" Yes, yes," said the other, " but are there any 
mitigating circumstances in the case, so that you 
could throw yourself on the mercy o' the court, 1 
mean ? " 


" My case ! " said Thomsett, glaring. " It ain't 
for me." 

" Oh, no, o' course not,' said Captain Stubbs. 

" What do you mean by ' o' course not ' ? " de- 
manded the indignant master of the Jo/m Henry. 

" Your deal," said Captain Stubbs, pushing the 
cards over to him. 

" You haven't answered my question," said 
Captain Thomsett, regarding him offensively. 

" There's some questions," said Stubbs slowly, 
" as is best left unanswered. When you've seen 
as much law as I have, my lad, you'll know that 
one of the first principles of English law is, that 
nobody is bound to commit themselves." 

" Do you mean to say you think it is me ? " 
bellowed Captain Thomsett. 

" I mean to say nothing," said Captain Stubbs, 
putting his huge hands on the table. " But when 
a man comes into my cabin and begins to hum 
an' haw an' hint at things, and then begins to ask 
my advice about bigamy, I can't help thinking. 
This is a free country, and there's no law ag'in 
thinking. Make a clean breast of it, cap'n, an' I'll 
do what I can for you." 

" You're a blanked fool," said Captain Thomsett 

Captain Stubbs shook his head gently, and 
smiled with infinite patience. " P'r'aps so," he 
said modestly. " P'r'aps so ; but there's one thing 
I can do, and that is, I can read people." 


" You can read me, I s'pose ? " said Thomsett 

" Easy, my lad," said the other, still preserving, 
though by an obvious effort, his appearance of 
judicial calm. " I've seen your sort before. One 
in pertikler I call to mind. He's doing four- 
teen years now, pore chap. But you needn't be 
alarmed, cap'n. Your secret is safe enough with 

Captain Thomsett got up and pranced up and 
down the cabin, but Captain Stubbs remained 
calm. He had seen that sort before. It was in 
teresting to the student of human nature, and he 
regarded his visitor with an air of compassionate 
interest. Then Captain Thomsett resumed his 
seat, and, to preserve his own fair fame, betrayed 
that of George. 

" I knew it was either you, or somebody your 
kind 'art was interested in," said the discomfited 
Stubbs, as they resumed the interrupted game. 
"You can't help your face, cap'n. When you was 
thinking about that pore chap's danger it was 
working with emotion. It misled me, I own it, 
but it ain't often I meet such a feeling 'art as 

Captain Thomsett, his eyes glowing affection- 
ately, gripped his friend's hand, and in the course 
of the game listened to an exposition of the law 
relating to bigamy of a most masterly and com- 
plicated nature, seasoned with anecdotes calcu- 


lated to m:ike the hardiest of men pause on the 
brink of matrimony and think seriously of their 

" Suppose this woman comes aboard after pore 
George," said Thomsett. " What's the best thing 
to be done ? " 

" The first thing," said Captain Stubbs, " is to 
gain time. Put her off." 

" Off the ship, d'ye mean ? " inquired the other. 

" No, no," said the jurist. " Pretend he's ill 
and can't see anybody. By gum, I've got it." 

He slapped the table with his open hand, and 
regarded the other triumphantly. 

" Let him turn into his bunk and pretend to be 
dead," he continued, in a voice trembling with 
pride at his strategy. " It's pretty dark down 
your fo'c'sle, I know. Don't have no light down 
there, and tell him to keep quiet." 

Captain Thomsett's eyes shone, but with a 
qualified admiration. 

" Ain't it somewhat sudden ? " he demurred. 

Captain Stubbs regarded him with a look of 
supreme artfulness, and slowly closed one eye. 

" He got a chill going in the water," he said 

" Well, you're a masterpiece," said Thomsett 
ungrudgingly. " I will say this of you, you're a 
masterpiece. Mind this is all to be kept quite 

" Make your mind easy," said the eminent jurist. 


" If I told all I know there's a good many men 
in this river as 'ud be doing time at the present 

Captain Thomsett expressed his pleasure at this 
information, and, having tried in vain to obtain a 
few of their names, even going so far as to suggest 
some, looked at the clock, and, shaking hands, 
departed to his own ship. Captain Stubbs, left 
to himself, finished his pipe and retired to rest ; 
and his mate, who had been lying in the adjoin- 
ing bunk during the consultation, vainly trying 
to get to sleep, scratched his head, and tried to 
think of a little strategy himself. He had glim- 
merings of it before he fell asleep, but when he 
awoke next morning it flashed before him in all 
the fulness of its matured beauty. 

He went on deck smiling, and, leaning his arms 
on the side, gazed contemplatively at George, who 
was sitting on the deck listening darkly to the 
cook as that worthy read aloud from a newspaper. 

" Anything interesting, cook ? " demanded the 

" About George, sir," said the cook, stopping 
in his reading. " There's pictures of 'im too." 

He crossed to the side, and, handing the paper 
to the mate, listened smilingly to the little ejac- 
ulations of surprise and delight of that deceitful 
man as he gazed upon the likenesses. " Wonder- 
ful," he said emphatically. "Wonderful. I never 
saw such a good likeness in my life, George. 


That'll be copied in every newspaper in London, 
and here's the name in full too — ' George Cooper, 
schooner y(?/^;/ Henry, now lying off Limehouse.' " 

He handed the paper back to the cook and 
turned away grinning as George, unable to control 
himself any longer, got up with an oath and went 
below to nurse his wrath in silence. A little later 
the mate of the brig, after a very confidential chat 
with his own crew, lit his pipe and, with a jaunty 
air, went ashore. 

For the next hour or two George alternated 
between the fo'c'sle and the deck, from whence 
he cast harassed glances at the busy wharves 
ashore. The skipper, giving it as his own sugges- 
tion, acquainted him with the arrangements made 
in case of the worst, and George, though he 
seemed somewhat dubious about them, went 
below and put his bed in order. 

" It's very unlikely she'll see that particular 
newspaper though," said the skipper encourag- 

" People are sure to see what you don't want 
'em too," growled George. " Somebody what 
knows us is sure to see it, an' show 'er." 

" There's a lady stepping into a waterman's 
skiff now," said the skipper, glancing at the stairs. 
''That wouldn't be her, I s'pose? " 

He turned to the seaman as he spoke but the 
words had hardly left his lips before George was 
going below and undressing for his part. 


" If anybody asks for me," he said, turning to 
the cook, who was regarding his feverish 
movements in much astonishment, " I'm dead." 

" You're wot ? " inquired the other, 

" Dead," said George. " Dead. Died at ten 
o'clock this morning. D'ye understand, fat- 
head ? " 

" I can't say as 'ow I do," said the cook, some- 
what acrimoniously. 

" Pass the word round that I'm dead," repeated 
George hurriedly. " Lay me out, cookie. I'll do 
so much for you one day." 

Instead of complying the horrified cook rushed 
up on deck to tell the skipper that George's brain 
had gone ; but, finding him in the midst of a 
hurried explanation to the men, stopped with 
greedy ears to listen. The skiff was making 
straight for the schooner, propelled by an elderly 
waterman in his shirt-sleeves, the sole passenger 
being a lady of ample proportions, who was 
watching the life of the river through a black 

In another minute the skiff bumped alongside, 
and the waterman standing in the boat passed the 
painter aboard. The skipper gazed at the fare 
and, shivering inwardly, hoped that George was 
a good actor. 

" I want to see Mr. Cooper," said the lady 
grimly, as she clambered aboard, assisted bv the 


" I'm very sorry, but you can't see him, mum," 
said the skipper politely. 

" Ho ! carn't I," said the lady, raising her voice 
a little. " You go an' tell him that his lawful 
wedded wife, what he deserted, is aboard." 

" It 'ud be no good, mum," said the skipper, 
w^ho felt the full dramatic force of the situation. 
" I'm afraid he wouldn't listen to you." 

" Ho ! I think I can persuade 'im a bit," said 
the lady, drawing in her lips. Where is 'e ? " 

" Up aloft," said the skipper, removing his hat. 

" Don't you give me none of your lies," said the 
lady, as she scanned both masts closely. 

" He's dead," said the skipper solemnly. 

His visitor threw up her arms and staggered 
back. The cook was nearest, and, throwing his 
arms round her waist, he caught her as she swayed. 
The mate, who was of a sympathetic nature, 
rushed below for whisky, as she sank back in the 
hatchway, taking the reluctant cook with her. 

" Poor thing ! " said the skipper. 

" Don't 'old 'er so tight, cook," said one of the 
men. " There's no necessity to squeeze 'er." 

" Pat 'er 'ands," said another. 

" Pat 'em yourself," said the cook brusquely, as 
he looked up and saw the delight of the crew of 
the Endeavour, who Avere leaning over their 
vessel's side regarding the proceedings with much 

" Don't leave go of me," said the newly-made 



widow, as she swallowed the whisky, and rose to 
her feet. 

" Stand by her, cook," said the skipper 

" Ay, ay, sir," said the cook. 

They formed a procession below, the skipper 
and mate leading ; the cook with his fair burden, 
choking her sobs with a handkerchief, and the 
crew following. 

"What did he die of? " she asked in a whisper 
broken with sobs. 

" Chill from the water," whispered the skipper 
in response. 

" I can't see 'im," she whispered. " It's so dark 
here. Has anybody got a match? Oh! here's 

Before anybody could interfere she took a box 
from a locker, and, striking one, bent over the 
motionless George, and gazed at his tightly-closed 
eyes and open mouth in silence. 

" You'll set the bed alight," said the mate in a 
low voice, as the end of the match dropped off. 

" It won't hurt 'z'w," whispered the widow 

The mate, who had distinctly seen the corpse 
shift a bit, thought differently. 

" Nothing '11 'urt 'im now," whispered the 
widow, sniffing as she struck another match. 
" Oh ! if he could only sit up and speak to me." 

For a moment the mate, who knew George's 


temper, thought it highly probable that he would, 
as the top of the second match fell between his 
shirt and his neck. 

" Don't look any more," said the skipper 
anxiously; "you can't do him any good." 

His visitor handed him the matches, and, for a 
short time, sobbed in silence. 

" We've done all we could for him," said the 
skipper at length. " It 'ud be best for you to go 
home and lay down a bit." 

"You're all very good, I'm sure," whispered the 
widow, turning away. " I'll send for him this 

They all started, especially the corpse. 

" Eh," said the skipper. 

" He was a bad 'usband to me," she continued, 
still in the same sobbing whisper, "but I'll 'ave 
'im put away decent." 

" You'd better let us bury him," said the 
skipper. " We can do it cheaper than you can, 
perhaps ? " 

" No. I'll send for him this evening," said the 
lady. " Are they 'is clothes ? " 

" The last he ever wore, " said the skipper 
pathetically, pointing to the heap of clothing. 
" There's his chest, poor chap, just as he left it." 

The bereaved widow bent down, and, raising 
the lid, shook her head tearfully as she regarded 
the contents. Then she gathered up the clothes 
under her left arm, and, still sobbing, took his 


watch, his knife, and some small change from his 
chest while the crew in dumb show inquired of 
the deceased, who was regarding her over the edge 
of the bunk, what was to be done. 

'' I suppose there was some money due to 
him ? " she inquired, turning to the skipper. 

" Matter of a few shillings," he stammered. 

" I'll take them," she said, holding out her 

The skipper put his hand in his pocket, and, in 
his turn, looked inquiringly at the late lamented 
for guidance ; but George had closed his eyes 
again to the world, and, after a moment's hesita- 
tion, he slowly counted the money into her hand. 

She dropped the coins into her pocket, and, 
with a parting glance at the motionless figure in 
the bunk, turned away. The procession made its 
way on deck again, but not in the same order, the 
cook carefully bringing up the rear. 

" If there's any other little things," she said, 
pausing at the side to get a firmer grip of the 
clothes under her arm." 

" You shall have them," said the skipper, who 
had been making mental arrangements to have 
George buried before her return. 

Apparently much comforted by this assurance, 
she allowed herself to be lowered into the boat, 
which was waiting. The excitement of the crew 
of the brig, who had been watching her move 
ments with eager interest, got beyond the bounds 


of all decency as they saw her being pulled ashore 
with the clothes in her lap. 

" You can come up now," said the skipper, as 
he caught sight of George's face at the scuttle. 

" Has she gone ? " inquired the seaman 

The skipper nodded, and a wild cheer rose from 
the crew of the brig as George came on deck in 
his scanty garments, and, from behind the others, 
peered cautiously over the side. 

" Where is she ? " he demanded. 

" The skipper pointed to the boat. 

" That ? ,' said George, starting. " That ? That 
ain't my wife." 

"Not your wife?" said the skipper, staring. 
" Whose is she, then ? ' ' 

" How the devil should I know," said George, 
throwing discipline to the winds in his agitation. 
" It ain't my wife." 

" P'r'aps it's one you've forgotten," suggested 
the skipper in a low voice. 

George looked at him and choked. " I've 
never seen her before," he replied, " s'elp me. 
Call her back. Stop her." 

The mate rushed aft and began to haul in the 
ship's boat, but George caught him suddenly by 
the arm. 

" Never mind," he said bitterly ; " better let her 
go. She seems to know too much for me. Some- 
bodys been talking to her." 


It was the same thought that was troubling 
the skipper, and he looked searchingly from one 
to the other for an explanation. He fancied that 
he saw it when he met the eye of the mate of 
the brig, and he paused irresolutely as the skiff 
reached the stairs, and the woman, springing 
ashore, waved the clothes triumphantly in the 
direction of the schooner and disappeared. 


There was bad blood between the captain and 
mate who comprised the officers and crew of the 
sailing-barge " Swallow " ; and the outset of their 
voyage from London to Littleport was conducted 
in glum silence. As far as the Nore they had 
scarcely spoken, and what little did pass was 
mainly in the shape of threats and abuse. Even- 
ing, chill and overcast, was drawing in ; distant 
craft disappeared somewhere between the waste of 
waters and the sky, and the side-lights of neigh- 
bouring vessels were beginning to shine over the 
water. The wind, with a little rain in it, was 
unfavourable to much progress, and the trough of 
the sea got deeper as the waves ran higher and 
splashed by the barge's side. 

" Get the side-lights out, and quick, you," 
growled the skipper, who was at the helm. 

The mate, a black-haired, fierce-eyed fellow of 
about twenty-five, set about the task with much 

" And look lively, you lump," continued the 

" I don't want none of your lip," said the mate 

furiously ; " so don't you give me none." 

The skipper yawned, and stretching his mighty 



frame laughed disagreeably. "You 11 take what 
I give you, my lad," said he, " whether it's lip 
or fist." 

" Lay a finger on me and I'll knife you," said 
the mate. " I ain't afraid of you, for all your 

He put out the side-lights, casting occasional 
looks of violent hatred at the skipper, who, being 
a man of tremendous physique and rough tongue, 
had goaded his subordinate almost to madness. 

" If you've done skulking," he cried as he 
knocked the ashes out of his pipe, " come and 
take the helm." 

The mate came aft and relieved him ; and he 
stood for a few seconds taking a look round 
before going below. He dropped his pipe, and 
stooped to recover it ; and in that moment the 
mate, with a sudden impulse, snatched up a hand- 
spike and dealt him a crushing blow on the head. 
Half blinded and stunned by the blow, the man 
fell on his knees, and shielding his face with his 
hands strove to rise. Before he could do so the 
mate struck wildly at him again, and with a great 
cry he fell backwards and rolled heavily over- 
board. The mate, with a sob in his breath, gazed 
wildly astern, and waited for him to rise. He 
waited : minutes seemed to pass, and still the body 
of the skipper did not emerge from the depths. 
He reeled back in a stupor; then he gave a faint 
cry as his eye fell on the boat, which was dragging 


a yard or two astern, and a figure which clung 
desperately to the side of it. Before he had quite 
realised what had happened, he saw the skipper 
haul himself on to the stern of the boat and then 
roll heavily into it. 

Panic-stricken at the sight, he drew his knife to 
cut the boat adrift, but paused as he reflected that 
she and her freight would probably be picked up 
by some passing vessel. As the thought struck 
him he saw the dim form of the skipper come 
towards the bow of the boat and, seizing the rope, 
begin to haul in towards the barge. 

" Stop ! " shouted the mate hoarsely ; " stop ! or 
I'll cut you loose." 

The skipper let the rope go, and the boat pulled 
up with a jerk. 

" I'm independent of you," the skipper shouted, 
picking up one of the loose boards from the 
bottom of the boat and brandishing it. '' If 
there's any sea on I can keep her head to it 
with this. Cut away." 

" If I let you come aboard," said the mate, " will 
you swear to let bygones be bygones ? 

"No!" thundered the other. "Whether I 
come aboard or not don't make much difference. 
It'll be about twenty years for you, you murder- 
ing hound, when I get ashore." 

The mate made no reply, but sat silently 
steering, keeping, however, a wary eye on the 
boat towing behind. He turned sick and faint 


as he thought of the consequences of his action, 
and vainly cast about in his mind for some 
means of escape. 

" Are you going to let me come aboard ? " 
presently demanded the skipper, who was shiver- 
ing in his wet clothes. 

" You can come aboard on my terms," repeat- 
ed the mate doggedly. 

" I'll make no terms with you," cried the other. 
" I hand you over to the police directly I get 
ashore, you mutinous dog. I've got a good wit- 
ness in my head." 

After this there was silence— silence unbroken 
through the long hours of the night as they 
slowly passed. Then the dawn came. The side- 
lights showed fainter and fainter in the water; 
the light on the mast shed no rays on the deck, 
but twinkled uselessly behind its glass. Then 
the mate turned his gaze from the wet, cheerless 
deck and heaving seas to the figure in the boat 
dragging behind. The skipper, who returned his 
gaze with a fierce scowl, was holding his wet 
handkerchief to his temple. He removed it as 
the mate looked, and showed a ghastly wound. 
Still, neither of them spoke. The mate averted 
his gaze, and sickened with fear as he thought 
of his position ; and in that instant the skipper 
clutched the painter, and, with a mighty heave, 
sent the boat leaping towards the stern of the 
barge, and sprang on deck. The mate rose to 


his feet ; but the other pushed him fiercely aside, 
and picking up the handspike, which lay on the 
raised top of the cabin, went below. Half an 
hour later he came on deck with a fresh suit of 
clothes on, and his head roughly bandaged, and 
standing in front of the mate, favoured him with 
a baleful stare. 

" Gimme that helm," he cried. 

The mate relinquished it. 

" You dog ! " snarled the other, " to try and 
kill a man when he wasn't looking, and then 
keep him in his wet clothes in the boat all 
night. Make the most o' your time. It'll be 
many a day before you see the sea again." 

The mate groaned in spirit, but made no reply. 

" I've wrote everything down with the time it 
happened," continued the other in a voice of 
savage satisfaction ; " an' I've locked that hand- 
spike up in my locker. It's got blood on it." 

" That's enough about it," said the mate, turn- 
ing at last and speaking thickly. " What I've 
done I must put up with." 

He walked forward to end the discussion ; but 
the skipper shouted out choice bits from time 
to time as they occurred to him, and sat steer- 
ing and gibing, a gruesome picture of vengeance. 

Suddenly he sprang to his feet with a sharp 
cry. " There's somebody in the water," he roared ; 
" stand by to pick him up." 

As he spoke he pointed with his left hand, 


and with his right steered for something which 
rose and fell lazily on the water a short distance 
from them. 

The mate, following his outstretched arm, saw 
it too, and picking up a boat-hook stood ready, 
and they were soon close enough to distinguish 
the body of a man supported by a life-belt. 

" Don't miss him," shouted the skipper. 

The mate grasped the rigging with one hand, 
and leaning forward as far as possible stood with 
the hook poised. At first it seemed as though 
the object would escape them, but a touch of the 
helm in the nick of time just enabled the mate 
to reach. The hook caught in the jacket, and 
with great care he gradually shortened it, and 
drew the body close to the side. 

" He's dead," said the skipper, as he fastened 
the helm and stood looking down into the wet 
face of the man. Then he stooped, and taking 
him by the collar of his coat dragged the stream- 
ing figure on to the deck. 

" Take the helm," he said. 

"Ay, ay," said the other; and the skipper dis- 
appeared below with his burden. 

A moment later he came on deck again. " We'll 
take in sail and anchor. Sharp there! " he cried. 

The mate went to his assistance. There was 
but little wind, and the task was soon accom- 
plished, and both men, after a hasty glance round, 
ran below. The wet body of the sailor lay on a 


locker, and a pool of water was on the cabin 

The mate hastily swabbed up the water, and 
then lit the fire and put on the kettle ; while the 
skipper stripped the sailor of his clothes, and fling- 
ing some blankets in front of the fire placed him 
upon them. 

For a long time they toiled in silence, in the 
faint hope that life still remained in the appar- 
ently dead body. 

" Poor devil ! " said the skipper at length, and 
fell to rubbing again, 

" I don't believe he's gone," said the mate, 
panting with his exertions. " He don't feel like 
a dead man." 

Ten minutes later the figure stirred slightly, 
and the men talked in excited whispers as they 
worked. A faint sigh came from the lips of the 
sailor, and his eyes partly opened. 

" It's all right, matey," said the skipper ; " you 
lie still ; we'll do the rest. Jem, get some coffee 

By the time it was prepared the partly drowned 
man was conscious that he was alive, and stared 
in a dazed fashion at the man who was using 
him so roughly. Conscious that his patient was 
improving rapidly the latter lifted him in his 
arms and placed him in his own bunk, and 
proffered him some steaming hot coffee. He 
sipped a little, then lapsed into unconsciousness 


again. The two men looked at each other 

" Some of 'em goes like that," said the skipper. 
" I've seen it afore. Just as you think they're 
pulling round they slip their cable." 

" We must keep him warm," said the mate. 
" I don't see as we can do any more." 

" We'll get under weigh again," said the other ; 
and pausing to heap some more clothes over the 
sailor he went on deck, followed by the mate ; 
and in a short time the Swalloiv was once more 
moving through the water. Then the skipper, 
leaving the mate at the helm, went below. 

Half an hour passed. 

" Go and see what you can make of him,'' 
said the skipper as he re-appeared and took the 
helm. " He keeps coming round a bit, and then 
just drifts back. Seems like as if he can't hook 
on to life. Don't seem to take no interest in it." 

The mate obeyed in silence ; and for the 
remainder of the day the two men relieved each 
other at the bedside of the sailor. Towards 
evening, as they were entering the river which 
runs up to Littleport, he made decided progress 
under the skipper's ministrations ; and the latter 
thrust his huge head up the hatchway and grinned 
in excusable triumph at the mate as he imparted 
the news. Then he suddenly remembered himself, 
and the smile faded. The light, too, faded from 
the mate's face. 


" 'Bout that mutiny and attempted murder," 
said the skipper, and paused as though waiting 
for the mate to contradict or quahfy the terms ; 
but he made no reply. 

" I give you in charge as soon as we get to 
port," continued the other. " Soon as the ship's 
berthed, you go below." 

" Ay, ay," said the mate, but without looking 
at him. 

" Nice thing it'll be for your wife," said the 
skipper sternly. " You'll get no mercy from me." 

"I don't expect none," said the mate huskily. 
" What I've done I'll stand to." 

The reply on the skipper's lips merged into a 
grunt, and he went below. The sailor was asleep, 
and breathing gently and regularly ; and after 
regarding him for some time the watcher returned 
to the deck and busied himself with certain small 
duties preparatory to landing. 

Slowly the light faded out of the sky, and 
the banks of the river grew indistinct ; and one by 
one the lights of Littleport came into view as 
they rounded the last bend of the river, and sav/ 
the little town lying behind its veil of masts and 
rigging. The skipper came aft and took the helm 
from the mate, and looked at him out of the 
corner of his eye, as he stood silently waiting with 
his hands by his side. 

" Take in sail," said the skipper shortly ; and 
leaving the helm a bit, ran to assist him. Five 


minutes later the SzvaUow was alongside of the 
wharf, and then, everything made fast and snug, 
the two men turned and faced each other. 

" Go below," said the skipper sternly. The 
mate walked off. " And take care of that chap. 
I'm going ashore. If anybody asks you about 
these scratches, I got 'em in a row down 
Wapping — D'ye hear?" 

The mate heard, but there was a thickness in 
his throat which prevented him from replying 
promptly. By the time he had recovered his 
voice the other had disappeared over the edge of 
the wharf, and the sound of his retreating foot- 
steps rang over the cobblestone quay. The mate 
in a bewildered fashion stood for a short time 
motionless ; then he turned, and drawing a deep 
breath, went below. 


The Chief Engineer and the Third sat at tea on 
the S.s. Curlew in the East India Docks. The 
small and not over-clean steward having placed 
everything he could think of upon the table, and 
then added everything the Chief could think of, 
had assiduously poured out two cups of tea and 
withdraw by request. The two men ate steadily, 
conversing between bites, and interrupted occa- 
sionally by a hoarse and sepulchral voice, the 
owner of which, being much exercised by the 
sight of the food, asked for it, prettily at first, 
and afterwards in a way which at least compelled 

" That's pretty good for a parrot," said the 
Third critically. " Seems to know what he's 
saying too. No, don't give it anything. It'll 
stop if you do." 

" There's no pleasure to me in listening to 
coarse language," said the Chief with dignity. 

He absently dipped a piece of bread and butter 
in the Third's tea, and losing it chased it round 
and round the bottom of the cup with his finger, 
the Third regarding the operation with an interest 
and emotion which he was at first unable to un- 



" You'd better pour yourself out another cup," 
he said thoughtfully as he caught the Third's eye. 

" I'm going to," said the other diyly. 

" The man I bought it of," said the Chief, 
giving the bird the sop, " said that it was a per- 
fectly respectable parrot and wouldn't know a bad 
word if it heard it. I hardly like to give it to my 
wife now." 

" It's no good being too particular," said the 
Third, regarding the other with an ill-concealed 
grin, " that's the worst of all you young married 
fellows. Seem to think your wife has got to be 
wrapped up in brown paper. Ten chances to one 
she'll be amused," 

The Chief shrugged his shoulders disdainfully. 
" I bought the bird to be company for her," he 
said slowly, " she'll be very lonesome without me, 

" How do you know? " inquired the other. 

" She said so," was the reply. 

"When you've been married as long as I have," 
said the Third, who having been married some 
fifteen years felt that their usual positions were 
somewhat reversed, " you'll know that generally 
speaking they're glad to get rid of you." 

" What for ? " demanded the Chief in a voice 
that Othello might have envied. 

" Well, you get in the way a bit," said Rogers 
with secret enjoyment, " you see you upset the 
arrangements. House-cleaning and all that sort 


of thing gets interrupted. They're glad to see 

you back at first, and then glad to see the back of 


" There's wives and wives," said the bridegroom 

" And mine's good one," said the Third, " re- 
gistered A I at Lloyds', but she don't worry about 
me going away. Your wife's thirty years younger 
than you, isn't she ? " 

" Twenty-five," corrected the other shortly. 
" You see what I'm afraid of is, that she'll get too 
much attention." 

" Well, women like that," remarked the Third. 

" But I don't, damn it," cried the Chief hotly. 
" When I think of it I get hot all over. Boiling 

" That won't last," said the other reassuringly, 
" you won't care twopence this time next year." 

" We're not all alike," growled the Chief, " some 
of us have got finer feelings than others have. I 
saw the chap next door looking at her as we 
passed him this morning." 

" Lor'," said the Third. 

" I don't want any of your damned impudence," 
said the Chief sharply. "He put his hat on 
straighter when he passed us. What do you 
think of that ? " 

" Can't say," replied the other with commend- 
able gravity, " it might mean anything." 

" If he has any of his nonsense while I'm away 


I'll break his neck," said the Chief passionately. 
" I shall know of it." 

The other raised his eyebrows. 

" I've asked the landlady to keep her eyes open 
a bit," said the Chief. " My wife was brought up 
in the country and she's very young and simple, 
so that it is quite right and proper for her to have 
a motherly old body to look after her." 

" Told your wife? " queried Rogers. 

" No," said the other. " Fact is, I've got an 
idea about that parrot. I'm going to tell her it's 
a magic bird, and will tell me everything she does 
while I'm away. Anything the landlady tells me 
I shall tell her I got from the parrot. For one 
thing, I don't want her to go out after seven of an 
evening, and she's promised me she won't. If she 
does I shall know, and pretend that I know 
through the parrot. What do you think of 

" Think of it ? " said the Third, staring at him. 
" Think of it ? Fancy a man telling a grown-up 
woman a yarn like that ! " 

" She believes in warnings and death-watches, 
and all that sort of thing," said the Chief, " so why 
shouldn't she ? " 

"Well, you'll know whether she believes in 
it or not when you come back," said Rogers, 
" and it'll be a great pity, because it's a beautiful 

*' What do you mean ? " said the other. 


" I mean it'll get its little neck wrung," said the 

" Well, we'll see," said Gannett. " I shall know 
what to think if it does die." 

" I shall never see that bird again," said Rogers, 
shaking his head as the Chief took up the cage 
and handed it to the steward, who was to accom- 
pany him home with it. 

The couple left the ship and proceeded down 
the East India Dock Road side by side, the only 
incident being a hot argument between a constable 
and the engineer as to whether he could or could 
not be held responsible for the language in which 
the parrot saw fit to indulge when the steward 
happened to drop it. 

The engineer took the cage at his door, and, 
not without some misgivings, took it upstairs into 
the parlour and set it on the table. Mrs. Gannett, 
a simple-looking woman, with sleepy brown eyes 
and a docile manner, clapped her hands with joy. 

" Isn't it a beauty ? " said Mr. Gannett, looking 
at it ; "I bought it to be company for you while 
I'm away." 

" You're too good to me, Jem," said his wife. 
She walked all round the cage admiring it, and 
the parrot, which was of a hugely suspicious and 
nervous disposition, having had boys at its last 
place, turning with her. After she had walked 
round him five times he got sick of it, a-nd in a 
simple sailorly fashion said so. 


" Oh, Jem," said his wife. 

" It's a beautiful talker," said Gannett hastily, 
" and it's so clever that it picks up everything it 
hears, but it'll soon forget it." 

" It looks as though it knows what you are 
saying," said his wife. " Just look at it, the artful 

The opportunity was too good to be missed, 
and in a few straightforward lies the engineer 
acquainted Mrs. Gannett of the miraculous powers 
with which he had chosen to endow it. 

" But you don't believe it ? " said his wife, 
staring at him open-mouthed. 

" I do," said the engineer firmly, 

" But how can it know what I'm doing when 
I'm away ? " persisted Mrs. Gannett. 

" Ah, that's its secret," said the engineer ; " a 
good many people would like to know that, but 
nobody has found out yet. It's a magic bird, and 
when you've said that you've said all there is to 
say about it." 

Mrs. Gannett, wrinkling her forehead, eyed the 
marvellous bird curiously. 

" You'll find it's quite true," said Gannett ; 
" when I come back that bird'll be able to tell me 
how you've been and all about you. Everything 
you've done during my absence." 

" Good gracious," said the astonished Mrs. 

" If you stay out after seven of an evening, of 


do anything else that I shouldn't like, that bird'U 
tell me," continued the engineer impressively. 
" It'll tell me who comes to see you, and in fact 
it will tell me everything you do while I'm away." 

" Well, it won't have anything bad to tell of 
me," said Mrs. Gannett composedly, " unless it 
tells lies." 

*' It can't tell lies," said her husband confidently, 
" and now, if you go and put your bonnet on, 
we'll drop in at the theatre for half an hour." 

It was a prophetic utterance, for he made such 
a fuss over the man next to his wife, offering her 
his opera-glasses, that they left, at the urgent 
request of the management, in almost exactly 
that space of time. 

" You'd better carry me about in a band-box," 
said Mrs. Gannett wearily as the outraged engineer 
stalked home beside her. " What harm was the 
man doing?" 

"You must have given him some encourage- 
ment," said Mr. Gannett fiercely — " made eyes at 
him or something. A man wouldn't offer to lend 
a lady his opera-glasses without." 

Mrs. Gannett tossed her head — and that so 
decidedly, that a passing stranger turned his head 
and looked at her. Mr. Gannett accelerated his 
pace, and taking his wife's arm, led her swiftly 
home with a passion too great for words. 

By the morning his anger had evaporated, but 
his misgivings remained. He left after breakfast 


for the Curlew, which was to sail in the afternoon, 
leaving behind him copious instructions, by fol- 
lowing which his wife would be enabled to come 
down and see him off with the minimum exposure 
of her fatal charms. 

Left to herself Mrs. Gannett dusted the room, 
until coming to the parrot's cage she put down 
the duster and eyed its eerie occupant curiously. 
She fancied that she saw an evil glitter in the 
creature's eye, and the knowing way in which it 
drew the film over it was as near an approach to a 
wink as a bird could get. 

She was still looking at it when there was a 
knock at the door, and a bright little woman — 
rather smartly dressed — bustled into the room, 
and greeted her effusively, 

" I just come to see you, my dear, because I 
thought a little outing would do me good," she 
said briskly ; " and if you've no objection I'll come 
down to the docks with you to see the boat off." 

Mrs. Gannett assented readily. It would ease 
the engineer's mind, she thought, if he saw her 
with a chaperon. 

" Nice bird," said Mrs. Cluffins, mechanically, 
bringing her parasol to the charge. 

" Don't do that," said her friend hastily. 

'* Why not ? " said the other. 

" Language ! " said Mrs. Gannett solemnly. 

" Well, I must do something to it," said Mrs. 
Cluffins restlessly. 


She held the parasol near the cage and sud- 
denly opened it. It was a flaming scarlet, and 
for the moment the shock took the parrot's breath 

" He don't mind that," said Mrs, Gannett. 

The parrot, hopping to the farthest corner of 
the bottom of his cage, said something feebly„ 
Finding that nothing dreadful happened, he re- 
peated his remark somewhat more boldly, and, 
being convinced after all that the apparition was 
quite harmless and that he had displayed his 
craven spirit for nothing, hopped back on his 
perch and raved wickedly. 

" If that was my bird," said Mrs. Cluffins, al- 
most as scarlet as her parasol, " I should wring its 

" No, you wouldn't," said Mrs. Gannett sol- 
emnly. And having quieted the bird by throwing 
a cloth over its cage, she explained its proper- 

" What ! " said Mrs. Cluffins, unable to sit still 
in her chair. " You mean to tell me your husband 
said that ! " 

Mrs. Gannett nodded. 

" He's awfully jealous of me," she said with a 
slight simper. 

" I wish he was my husband," said Mrs. Cluffins 
in a thin, hard voice. " I wish C. would talk to 
me like that. I wish somebody would try and 
persuade C. to talk to me like that." 


" It shows he's fond of me," said Mrs, Gannett, 
looking down. 

Mrs. Clufifiins jumped up and snatched the cover 
off the cage ; endeavoured, but in vain, to get the 
parasol through the bars, 

" And you believe that rubbish ! " she said 
scathingly. " Bosh, you wretch ! " 

" I don't believe it," said her friend, taking her 
gently away and covering the cage hastily just as 
the bird was recovering, " but I let him think I 

" I call it an outrage," said Mrs. Cluffins, waving 

„ the parasol wildly. " I never heard of such a 

thing; I'd like to give Mr. Gannett a piece of my 

mind. Just about half an hour of it. He wouldn't 

be the same man afterwards — I'd parrot him." 

Mrs. Gannett, soothing her agitated friend as 
well as she was able, led her gently to a chair and 
removed her bonnet, and finding that complete 
recovery was impossible while the parrot remained 
in the room, took that wonder-working bird out- 

By the time they had reached the docks and 
boarded the Curlew Mrs. Clufifins had quite recov- 
ered her spirits. She roamed about the steamer 
asking questions, which savoured more of idle 
curiosity than a genuine thirst for knowledge, and 
was at no pains to conceal her opinion of those 
who were unable to furnish her with satisfactory 


" I shall think of you every day, Jem," said 
Mrs. Gannett tenderly. 

" I shall think of you every minute," said the 
engineer reproachfully. 

He sighed gently and gazed in a scandalised 
fashion at Mrs. Cluffins, who was carrying on a 
desperate flirtation with one of the apprentices. 

" She's very light-hearted," said his wife, follow- 
ing the direction of his eyes. 

" She is," said Mr. Gannett curtly, as the uncon- 
scious Mrs. Cluffins shut her parasol and rapped 
the apprentice playfully with the handle, " She 
seems to be on very good terms with Jenkins, 
laughing and carrying on. I don't suppose she's 
ever seen him before," 

" Poor young things," said Mrs, Clufifins sol- 
emnly, as she came up to them. " Don't you 
worry, Mr. Gannett ; I'll look after her and keep 
her from moping."^ 

"You're very kind," said the engineer slowly. 

"We'll have a jolly time," said Mrs. Cluffins, 
" I often wish my husband was a seafaring 
man, A wife does have more freedom, doesn't 

"More what?" inquired Mr, Gannett huskily. 

" More freedom," said Mrs. Cluffins gravely. " I 
always envy sailors' wives. They can do as they 
like. No husband to look after them for nine or 
ten months in the year." 

Before the unhappy engineer could put his in- 


dignant thoughts into words there was a warning 
cry from the gangway, and, with a hasty farewell, 
he hurried below. The visitors went ashore, the 
gangway was shipped, and in response to the 
clang of the telegraph, the Curlezu drifted slowly 
away from the quay and headed for the spring 
bridge slowly opening in front of her. 

The two ladies hurried to the pier-head and 
watched the steamer down the river until a bend 
hid it from view. Then Mrs. Gannett, with a 
sensation of having lost something, due, so her 
friend assured her, to the want of a cup of tea, 
went slowly back to her lonely home. 

In the period of grass widowhood which ensued, 
Mrs. Cluffins' visits formed almost the sole relief 
to the bare monotony of existence. As a com- 
panion the parrot was an utter failure, its language 
being so irredeemably bad that it spent most of 
its time in the spare room with a cloth over its 
cage, wondering when the days were going to 
lengthen a bit. Mrs. Cluffins suggested selling it, 
but her friend repelled the suggestion with horror, 
and refused to entertain it at any price, even that 
of the publican at the corner, who had heard of 
the bird's command of language, and was bent 
upon buying it. 

" I wonder what that beauty will have to tell 
your husband," said Mrs. Cluffins, as they sat to- 
gether one day some three months after the 
Curlew's departure. 


" I should hope that he has forgotten that non- 
sense," said Mrs. Gannett, reddening ; " he never 
alludes to it in his letters." 

" Sell it," said Mrs. Cluffins peremptorily. " It's 
no good to you, and Hobson would give anything 
for it almost." 

Mrs. Gannett shook her head. " The house 
wouldn't hold my husband if I did," she remarked 
with a shiver. 

"Oh, yes it would," said Mrs. Clufifins; "you 
do as I tell you, and a much smaller house than 
this would hold him. I told C. to tell Hobson he 
should have it for five pounds." 

" But he mustn't," said her friend in alarm. 

" Leave yourself right in my hands," said Mrs. 
Clufifins, spreading out two small palms, and re- 
garding them complacently. " It'll be all right, I 
promise you." 

She put her arm round her friend's waist and 
led her to the window, talking earnestly. In five 
minutes Mrs. Gannett was wavering, in ten she 
had given away, and in fifteen the energetic Mrs. 
Cluffins was en route for Hobson's, swinging the 
cage so violently in her excitement that the parrot 
was reduced to holding on to its perch with claws 
and bill. Mrs. Gannett watched the progress 
from the window, and with a queer look on her 
face sat down to think out the points of attack 
and defence in the approaching fray. 

A week later a four-wheeler drove up to the 


door, and the engineer, darting upstairs three steps 
at a time, dropped an armful of parcels on the 
floor, and caught his wife in an embrace which 
would have done credit to a bear. Mrs. Gannett, 
for reasons of which a lack of muscle was only 
one, responded less ardently. 

" Ha, it's good to be home again," said Gannett, 
sinking into an easy-chair and pulling his wife on 
his knee. "And how have you been? Lonely?" 

" I got used to it," said Mrs. Gannett softly. 

The engineer coughed. " You had the parrot,' 
he remarked. 

" Yes, I had the magic parrot," said Mrs. 

" How's it getting on ? " said her husband, 
looking round. "Where is it ? " 

" Part of it is on the mantelpiece," said Mrs. 
Gannett, trying to speak calmly, " part of it is in 
a bonnet-box upstairs, some of it's in my pocket, 
and here is the remainder." 

She fumbled in her pocket and placed in his 
hand a cheap two-bladed clasp-knife. 

"On the mantelpiece?" repeated the engineer, 
staring at the knife ; " in a bonnet-box ! " 

"Those blue vases," said his wife. 

Mr. Gannett put his hand to his head. If he 
had heard aright one parrot had changed into a 
pair of vases, a bonnet, and a knife. A magic 
bird with a vengeance. 

" I sold it," said Mrs. Gannett suddenly. 


The engineer's knee stiffened inhospitably, and 
his arm dropped from his wife's waist. She rose 
quietly and took a chair opposite. 

" Sold it ! '■ said Mr. Gannett in awful tones. 
" Sold my parrot ! " 

" I didn't like it, Jem," said his wife. " I didn't 
want that bird watching me, and I did want the 
vases, and the bonnet, and the little present for 

Mr. Gannett pitched the little present into the 
corner of the room. 

"You see it mightn't have told the truth, 
Jem," continued Mrs. Gannett. " It might have 
told all sorts of lies about me, and made no end 
of mischief." 

'' It couldn't lie," shouted the engineer passion- 
ately, rising from his chair and pacing the room. 
" It's your guilty conscience that's made a coward 
of you. How dare you sell my parrot ? " 

" Because it wasn't truthful, Jem," said his wife, 
who was somewhat pale. 

" If you were half as truthful you'd do," vocif- 
erated the engineer, standing over her. " You, you 
deceitful woman." 

Mrs. Gannett fumbled in her pocket again, and 
producing a small handkerchief applied it delib- 
erately to her eyes. 

" I — I got rid of it for your sake," she stam- 
mered. " It used to tell such lies about you. I 
couldn't bear to listen to it." 


"About me /''said Mr. Gannett, sinking into 
his seat and staring at his wife with very natural 
amazement. "Tell lies about me/ Nonsense! 
How could it?" 

" I suppose it could tell me about you as easily 
as it could tell you about me ? " said Mrs. Gannett. 
" There was more magic in that bird than you 
thought, Jem. It used to say shocking things 
about you. I couldn't bear it." 

" Do you think you're talking to a child or a 
fool?" demanded the engineer. 

Mrs. Gannett shook her head feebly. She still 
kept the handkerchief to her eyes, but allowed a 
portion to drop over her mouth. 

"I should like to hear one of the stories it told 
about me, if you can remember them," said the 
engineer with bitter sarcasm. 

" The first lie," said Mrs. Gannett in a feeble 
but ready voice, " was about the time you were at 
Genoa. The parrot said you were at some con- 
cert gardens at the upper end of the town." 

One moist eye coming mildly from behind the 
handkerchief saw the engineer stiffen suddenly in 
his chair. 

" I don't suppose there even is such a place," 
she continued. 

" I — b'leve — there — is," said her husband jerkily. 
" I've heard — our chaps — talk of it." 

"But you haven't been there? "said his wife 



" Never ! " said the engineer with extraordinary 

" That wicked bird said that you got intoxicated 
there," said Mrs. Gannett in solemn accents, " that 
you smashed a httle marble-topped table and 
knocked down two waiters, and that if it hadn't 
been for the captain of the Pursuit, who was in 
there and who got you away, you'd have been 
locked up. Wasn't it a wicked bird ? " 

" Horrible ! " said the engineer huskily. 

" I don't suppose there ever was a ship called 
the Pursuit^' continued Mrs. Gannett. 

" Doesn't sound like a ship's name," murmured 
Mr. Gannett. 

" Well, then, a few days later it said the Curlew 
was at Naples." 

" I never went ashore all the time we were at 
Naples," remarked the engineer casually. 

" The parrot said you did," said Mrs. Gan- 

" I suppose you'll believe your own lawful hus- 
band before that damned bird ? " shouted Gan- 
nett, starting up. 

" Of course I didn't believe it, Jem," said his 
wife. " I'm trying to prove to you that the bird 
was not truthful, but you're so hard to persuade." 

Mr. Gannett took a pipe from his pocket, and 
with a small knife dug with much severity and 
determination a hardened plug from the bowl, and 
blew noisily through the stem. 


" There was a girl kept a fruit-stall just by the 
harbor," said Mrs, Gannett, " and on this evening, 
on the strength of having bought three-penny- 
worth of green figs, you put your arm round her 
waist and tried to kiss her, and her sweetheart, 
who was standing close by, tried to stab you. The 
parrot said that you were in such a state of terror 
that you jumped into the harbour and were nearly 

Mr. Gannett having loaded his pipe lit it slowly 
and carefully, and with tidy precision got up and 
deposited the match in the fireplace. 

" It used to frighten me so with its stories that 
I hardly knew what to do with myself," continued 
Mrs. Gannett. " When you were at Suez " 

The engineer waved his hand imperiously. 

" That's enough," he said stiffly. 

" I'm sure I don't want to have to repeat what 
it told me about Suez," said his wife. " I thought 
you'd like to hear it, that's all," 

" Not at all," said the engineer, pufifing at his 
pipe. " Not at all." 

" But you see why I got rid of the bird, don't 
you ? " said Mrs. Gannett, " If it had told you 
untruths about me, you would have believed 
them, wouldn't you?" 

Mr, Gannett took his pipe from his mouth 
and took his wife in his extended arms. " No, 
my dear," he said brokenly, " no more than you 
believe all this stuff about me." 


"And I did quite right to sell it, didn't I, 

"Quite right," said Mr. Gannett with a great 
assumption of heartiness. " Best thing to do 
with it." 

" You haven't heard the worst yet," said Mrs. 
Gannett. " When you were at Suez " 

Mr. Gannett consigned Suez to its only rival, 
and thumping the table with his clenched fist, 
forbade his wife to mention the word again, and 
desired her to prepare supper. 

Not until he heard his wife moving about in the 
kitchen below did he relax the severity of his 
countenance. Then his expression changed to 
one of extreme anxiety, and he restlessly paced 
the room seeking for light. It came suddenly. 

" Jenkins," he gasped, " Jenkins and Mrs. Cluf- 
fins, and I was going to tell Cluffins about him 
writing to his wife. I expect he knows the letter 
by heart." 


" 'Taint no use waiting any longer," said Harry 
Pilchard, looking over the side of the brig towards 
the Tower stairs. " 'E's either waiting for the 
money or else 'e's a spending of it. Who's coming 

" Give 'im another five minutes, Harry," said 
another seaman persuasively ; " it 'ud be uncom- 
mon 'ard on 'im if 'e come aboard and then 'ad to 
go an' get another ship's crew to 'elp 'im celebrate 

" *Ard on us, too," said the cook honestly. 
" There he is ! " 

The other glanced up at a figure waving to them 
from the stairs. " 'E wants the boat," he said, 
moving aft. 

"No 'e don't, Steve," piped the boy. '"E's 
waving you not to. He's coming in the water- 
man's skiff." 

" Ha ! same old tale," said the seaman wisely. 
" Chap comes in for a bit o' money and begins to 
waste it directly. There's threepence gone ; clean 
chucked away. Look at 'im. Just look at 'im ! " 

"'E's got the money all right," said the cook; 
" there's no doubt about that. Why, 'e looks 'arf 
as large again as 'e did this morning," 



The crew bent over the side as the skiff ap- 
proached, and the fare, who had been leaning back 
in the stern with a severely important air, rose 
slowly and felt in his trousers' pocket, 

" There's a sixpence for you, my lad," he said 
pompously. " Never mind about the change." 

" All right, old slack-breeches," said the water- 
man with effusive good-fellowship, " up you get." 

Three pairs of hands assisted the offended fare 
on board, and the boy, hovering round him, 
slapped his legs vigorously. 

"Wot are you up to?" demanded Mr. Samuel 
Dodds, A.B., turning on him. 

" Only dusting you down, Sam," said the boy 

" You got the money all right, I s'pose, 
Sammy ? " said Steve Martin. 

Mr. Dodds nodded and slapped his breast- 

" Right as ninepence," he replied genially. 
" I've been with my lawyer all the arternoon, 
pretty near. 'E's a nice feller," 

'"Ow much is it, Sam?" inquired Pilchard 

" One 'undred and seventy-three pun seventeen 
shillings an' ten pence,'' said the heir, noticing 
with much pleasure the effect of his announce- 

" Say it agin, Sam," said Pilchard in awed 


Mr. Dodds, with a happy laugh, obliged him. 
" If you'll all come down the foc's'le," he contin- 
ued, " I've got a' bundle o' cigars an' a drop o' 
something short in my pocket." 

" Let's 'ave a look at the money, Sam," said 
Pilchard when the cigars were alight. 

" Ah, let's 'ave a look at it," said Steve. 

Mr. Dodds laughed again, and producing a 
small canvas-bag from his pocket, dusted the table 
with his big palm, and spread out a roll of bank- 
notes and a little pile of gold and silver. It was 
an impressive sight, and the cook breathed so hard 
that one note fluttered off the table. Three men 
dived to recover it, while Sam, alive for the first 
time to the responsibilities of wealth, anxiously 
watched the remainder of his capital. 

" There's something for you to buy sweets with, 
my lad," he said, restored to good humour as the 
note was replaced. 

He passed over a small coin, and regarded with 
tolerant good-humour the extravagant manifesta- 
tion of joy on the part of the youth which fol- 
lowed. He capered joyously for a minute or two, 
and then taking it to the foot of the steps, where 
the light was better, bit it ecstatically. 

" How much is it ? " inquired the wandering 
Steve. " You do chuck your money about, Sam." 

" On'y sixpence," said Sam, laughing. " I ex- 
pect if it 'ad been a shillin' it 'ud ha' turned his 


" It ain't a sixpence," said the boy indignantly. 
** It's 'arf a suvrin'." 

" 'Arf a wot ? " exclaimed Mr. Dodds with a 
sudden change of manner. 

" 'Arf a suvrin'," repeated the boy with nervous 
rapidity; "and thank you very much, Sam, for 
your generosity. If everybody was like you we 
should all be the better for it. The world 'ud be 
a different place to live in," concluded the youth- 
ful philosopher, 

Mr. Dodd's face under these fulsome praises 
was a study in conflicting emotions. " Well, 
don't waste it," he said at length, and hastily 
gathering up the remainder stowed it in the bag. 

" What are you going to do with it all, Sam ? " 
inquired Harry. 

" I ain't made up my mind yet," said Mr. Dodds 
deliberately. " I 'ave thought of 'ouse property." 

" I don't mean that," said the other. " I mean 
wot are you going to do with it now, to take care 
of it?" 

" Why, keep it in my pocket," said Sam, staring. 

" Well, if I was you," said Harry impressively, 
" I should ask the skipper to take care of it for 
me. You know wot you are when you're a bit 
on, Sam." 

" Wot d'yer mean ? " demanded Mr. Dodds 

" I mean," said Harry hastily, " that you've got 
sich a generous nature that when you've 'ad a 


glass or two you're just as likely as not to give 
it away to somebody." 

" I know what I'm about," said Mr. Dodds with 
conviction. " I'm not goin' to get on while I've 
got this about me. I'm just goin' round to the 
' Bull's Head,' but I sha'n't drink anything to 
speak of myself. Anybody that likes to come 
t'ave anything at my expense is welcome." 

A flattering murmur, which was music to Mr. 
Dodds' ear, arose from his shipmates as they went 
on deck and hauled the boat alongside. The boy 
was first in her, and pulling out his pockethand- 
kerchief ostentatiously wiped a seat for Mr. Dodds. 

" Understand," said that gentleman, with whom 
the affair of the half-sovereign still rankled, '■'■your 
drink is shandygaff." 

* * * 45- * * 

They returned to the brig at eleven o'clock, 
Mr. Dodds slumbering peacefully in the stern of 
the boat, propped up on either side by Steve and 
the boy. 

His sleep was so profound that he declined to 
be aroused, and was hoisted over the side with 
infinite difficulty and no little risk by his ship- 

" Look at 'im," said Harry, as they lowered him 
down the forecastle. " What 'ud ha' become of 
'im if we hadn't been with 'im ? Where would 'is 
money ha' been ? " 


" He'll lose it as sure as eggs is heggs," said 
Steve, regarding him intently. " Bear a hand to 
lift 'im in his bunk, Harry." 

Harry complied, their task being rendered 
somewhat difficult by a slight return of conscious- 
ness in Mr. Dodds' lower limbs, which, spreading 
themselves out fanwise, defied all attempts to pack 
them in the bunk. 

" Let 'em hang out then," said Harry savagely, 
wiping a little mud from his face. " Fancy t/iat 
coming in for a fortin." 

" 'E won't 'ave it long," said the cook, shaking 
his head. 

" Wot 'e wants is a shock," said Harry. " 'Ow'd 
it be when he wakes up to tell 'im he's lost all 'is 
money? " 

" Wot's the good o' telling 'im," demanded the 
cook, " when 'e's got it in his pocket ? " 

" Well, let's take it out," said Pilchard. " I'll 
hide it under my piller, and let him think he's 'ad 
his pocket picked." 

" I won't 'ave nothing to do with it," said Steve 
peremptorily, " I don't believe in sich games." 

"Wot do you think, cook?" inquired Harry. 

" I don't see no 'arm in it," said the cook slowly. 
"the fright might do 'im good, p'raps." 

" It might be the saving of 'im," said Harry. 
He leaned over the sleeping seaman, and, gently 
inserting his fingers in his breast-pocket, drew out 
the canvas bag. " There it is, chaps," he said 


gayly ; " an' I'll give 'im sich a fright in the morn- 
ing as he won't forget in a 'urry." 

He retired to his bunk, and placing the bag 
under his pillow, was soon fast asleep. The other 
men followed his example, and Steve extinguish- 
ing the lamp, the forecastle surrendered itself to 

At five o'clock they were awakened by the voice 
of Mr. Dodds. It was a broken, disconnected sort 
of voice at first, like to that of a man talking in 
his sleep ; but as Mr. Dodds' head cleared his 
ideas cleared with it, and in strong, forcible lan- 
guage straight from the heart he consigned the 
eyes and limbs of some person or persons unknown 
to every variety of torment, after which, in a voice 
broken with emotion, he addressed himself in 
terms of heart-breaking sympathy. 

" Shut up, Sam," said Harry in a sleepy voice. 
" Why can't you go to sleep ? " 

" Sleep be 'anged," said Mr. Dodds tearfully. 
" I've lorst all my money." 

" You're dreamin'," said Harry lightly ; " pinch 

Mr. Dodds, who had a little breath left and a 
few words still comparatively fresh, bestowed them 
upon him. 

" I tell you you haven't lorst it," said Harry. 
" Don't you remember giving it to that red-'aired 
woman with a baby ? " 

" Wot ? " said the astounded Mr. Dodds. 


" You give it to 'er an' told 'er to buy the baby 
a bun with it," continued the veracious Mr. 

" Told 'er to buy the baby a bun with it ? " re- 
peated Mr. Dodds in a dazed voice. " Told 'er 

to Wot did you let me do it for ? Wot was 

all you chaps standin' by an' doin' to let me go 
an' do it for ? " 

" We did arsk you not to," said Steve, joining 
in the conversation. 

Mr. Dodds finding language utterly useless to 
express his burning thoughts, sat down and madly 
smashed at the table with his fists. 

" Wot was you adoin' to let me do it ? " he 
demanded at length of the boy. " You ungrate- 
ful little toad. You can give me that 'arf-suvrin 
back, d'ye hear ? " 

" I can't," said the boy. " I followed your 
example, and give it to the red-'aired woman to 
buy the baby another bun with." 

There was a buzzing noise in Mr. Dodds' head, 
and the bunks and their grinning occupants went 
round and round. 

" 'Ere, 'old up, Sam," said Pilchard, shaking him 
in alarm. " It's all right ; don't be a fool. I've 
got the money." 

Sam stared at him blankly. 

" I've got the money," repeated the seaman. 

Mr. Dodds' colour came back. 

" How'd you get it ? " he inquired. 


" I took it out of your pocket last night just to 
give you a lesson," said Harry severely. " Don't 
you never be so silly agin, Sam." 

" Gimme my money," said Mr. Dodds, glaring 
at him. 

" You might ha' lorst it, you see, Sam," con- 
tinued his benefactor ; " if /could take it, anybody 
else could. Let this be a lesson to you." 

" If you don't gimme my money " began 

Sam violently. 

" It's no good trying to do 'im a kindness," 
said Harry to the others as he turned to his bunk. 
" He can go an' lose it for all I care." 

He put his hand in his bunk, and then with a 
sudden exclamation searched somewhat hastily 
amongst the bedding. Mr. Dodds, watching him 
with a scowl, saw him take every article separately 
out of his bunk, and then sink down appalled on 
the locker. 

"You've took it, Sam — ain't — you?" he 

" Look 'ere," said Mr. Dodds, with ominous 
quietness, " when you've done your little game." 

"It's gone," said Harry in a scared voice, 
" somebody's taken it." 

" Look 'ere, 'Arry, give 'im his money," said 
Steve impatiently ; " a joke's a joke, but we don't 
want too much of it." 

" I ain't got it," said Harry trembling. " Sure 
as I stand 'ere it's gone. I took it out of your 


pocket, and put it under my piller. You saw me, 
didn't you, Steve ? " 

" Yes, and I told you not to," said Steve. " Let 
this be a warning to you not to try and teach 
lessons to people wot don't want 'em." 

" I'm going to the police-station to give 'im in 
charge," said Mr. Dodds fiercely, "that's wot I'm 
goin' to do." 

" For the Lord's sake don't do that, Sam," said 
Pilchard, clutching him by the coat. 

" 'Arry ain't made away with it, Sam," said 
Steve. " I saw somebody take it out of his bunk 
while he was asleep." 

"Why didn't you stop him?" cried Harry, 
starting up. 

" I didn't like to interfere," said Steve simply ; 
" but I saw where he went to." 

" Where ? " demanded Mr. Dodds wildly. 
" Where ? " 

" He went straight up on deck," said Steve 
slowly, " walked aft, and then down into the 
cabin. The skipper woke up, and I heard 'im 
say something to him." 

" Say something to 'im ? " repeated the bewil- 
dered Dodds. " Wot was it ? " 

"Well, I 'ardly like to repeat it," said Steve 

"Wot was it?" roared the overwrought Mr. 

" Well, I 'eard this chap say something," said 


Steve slowly, " and then I heard the skipper's 
voice. But I don't like to repeat wot 'e said, I 
reely don't." 

" Wot was it ? " roared Mr. Dodds, approaching 
him with clenched fist, 

" Well, if you will have it," said Steve with a 
little cough, " the old man said to me, 'Well done, 
Steve,' he ses, ' you're the only sensible man of 
the whole bilin' lot, Sam's a fool, 'e ses, and 
'Arry's worse, an' if it wasn't for men like you, 
Steve, life wouldn't be worth living.' " 


On a fine spring morning in the early part of 
the present century, Tetby, a small port on the 
east coast, was keeping high holiday. Tradesmen 
left their shops, and labourers their work, and 
flocked down to join the maritime element 
collected on the quay. 

In the usual way Tetby was a quiet, dull little 
place, clustering in a tiny heap of town on one side 
of the river, and perching in scattered red-tiled 
cottages on the cliffs of the other. 

Now, however, people were grouped upon the 
stone quay, with its litter of fish-baskets and coils 
of rope, waiting expectantly, for to-day the largest 
ship ever built in Tetby, by Tetby hands, was to 
start upon her first voyage. 

As they waited, discussing past Tetby ships, 

their builders, their voyages, and their fate, a small 

piece of white sail showed on the noble barque 

from her moorings up the river. The groups on 

the quay grew animated as more sail was set, and 

in a slow and stately fashion the new ship drew 

near. As the light breeze took her sails she came 

faster, sitting the water like a duck, her lofty 

masts tapering away to the sky as they broke 

through the white clouds of canvas. She passed 



within ten fathoms of the quay, and the men 
cheered and the women held their children up to 
wave farewell, for she was manned from captain 
to cabin-boy by Tetby men, and bound for the 
distant southern seas. 

Outside the harbour she altered her course some- 
what and bent, like a thing of life, to the wind 
blowing outside. The crew sprang into the rig- 
ging and waved their caps, and kissed their grimy 
hands to receding Tetby. They were answered 
by rousing cheers from the shore, hoarse and mas- 
culine, to drown the lachrymose attempts of the 

They watched her until their eyes were dim, 
and she was a mere white triangular speck on the 
horizon. Then, like a melting snowflake, she 
vanished into air, and the Tetby folk, some envy- 
ing the bold mariners, and others thankful that 
their lives were cast upon the safe and pleasant 
shore, slowly dispersed to their homes. 

Months passed, and the quiet routine of Tetby 
went on undisturbed. Other crafts came into 
port, and, discharging and loading in an easy, 
comfortable fashion, sailed again. The keel of 
another ship was being laid in the shipyard, and 
slowly the time came round when the return of 
Tetby s Pride, for so she was named, might be 
reasonably looked for. 

It was feared that she might arrive in the night 
— the cold and cheerless night, when wife and 


child were abed, and even if roused to go down on 
to the quay, would see no more of her than her 
sideHghts staining the water, and her dark form 
steaHng cautiously up the river. They would 
have her come by day. To see her first on that 
horizon, into which she had dipped and vanished. 
To see her come closer and closer, the good, stout 
ship seasoned by southern seas and southern suns, 
with the crew crowding the sides to gaze at Tetby, 
and see how the children had grown. 

But she came not. Day after day the watchers 
waited for her in vain. It was whispered at 
length that she was overdue, and later on, but 
only by those who had neither kith nor kin aboard 
of her, that she was missing. 

Long after all hope had gone wives and moth- 
ers, after the manner of their kind, watched and 
waited on the cheerless quay. One by one they 
stayed away, and forgot the dead to attend to the 
living. Babes grew into sturdy, ruddy-faced boys 
and girls, boys and girls into young men and 
women, but no news of the missing ship, no 
word from the missing men. Slowly year suc- 
ceeded year, and the lost ship became a legend. 
The man who had built her was old and gray, and 
time had smoothed away the sorrows of the 

It was on a dark, blustering September night 
that an old woman sat by her fire knitting. The 
fire was low, for it was more for the sake of com- 


pany than warmth, and it formed an agreeable 
contrast to the wind which whistled round the 
house, bearing on its wings the sound of the waves 
as they came crashing ashore. 

" God help those at sea to-night," said the old 
woman devoutly, as a stronger gust than usual 
shook the house. 

She put her knitting in her lap and clasped her 
hands, and at that moment the cottage door 
opened. The lamp flared and smoked up the 
chimney with the draught, and then went out. 
As the old woman rose from her seat the door 

" Who's there ? " she cried nervously. 

Her eyes were dim and the darkness sudden, 
but she fancied she saw something standing by 
the door, and snatching a spill from the mantel- 
piece she thrust it into the fire, and relit the 

A man stood on the threshold, a man of middle 
age, with white drawn face and scrubby beard. 
His clothes were in rags, his hair unkempt, and 
his light grey eyes sunken and tired. 

The old woman looked at him, and waited for 
him to speak. When he did so he took a step to- 
wards her, and said — 

" Mother ! " 

With a great cry she threw herself upon his 
neck and strained him to her withered bosom, and 
kissed him. She could not believe her eyes, her 


senses, but clasped him convulsively, and bade 
him speak again, and wept, and thanked God, and 
laughed all in a breath. 

Then she remembered herself, and led him tot- 
tering to the old Windsor chair, thrust him in it, 
and quivering with excitement took food and 
drink from the cupboard and placed before him. 
He ate hungrily, the old woman watching him, 
and standing by his side to keep his glass filled 
with the home-brewed beer. At times he would 
have spoken, but she motioned him to silence and 
bade him eat, the tears coursing down her aged 
cheeks as she looked at his white famished face. 

At length he laid down his knife and fork, and 
drinking off the ale, intimated that he had finished. 

" My boy, my boy," said the old woman in a 
broken voice, " I thought you nad gone down with 
Tetbys Pride long years ago." 

He shook his head heavily. 

" The captain and crew, and the good ship," 
asked his mother. "Where are they?" 

"■ Captain — and — crew," said the son, in a 
strange hesitating fashion ; " it is a long story — 
the ale has made me heavy. They are " 

He left off abruptly and closed his eyes. 

" Where are they ? " asked his. mother. " What 
happened ? " 

He opened his eyes slowly. 

" I — am — tired — dead tired.. I have not — slept. 
I'll tell — you — morning." 


He nodded again, and the old woman shook 
him gently. 

** Go to bed then. Your old bed, Jem. It's as 
you left it, and it's made and the sheets aired. 
It's been ready for you ever since." 

He rose to his feet, and stood swaying to and 
fro. His mother opened a door in the wall, and 
taking the lamp lighted him up the steep wooden 
staircase to the room he knew so well. Then he 
took her in his arms in a feeble hug, and kissing 
her on the forehead sat down wearily on the bed. 

The old woman returned to her kitchen, and 
falling upon her knees remained for some time in 
a state of grateful, pious ecstasy. When she arose 
she thought of those other women, and, snatching 
a shawl from its peg behind the door, ran up the 
deserted street with her tidings. 

In a very short time the town was astir. Like 
a breath of hope the whisper flew from house to 
house. Doors closed for the night were thrown 
open, and wondering children questioned their 
weeping mothers. Blurred images of husbands 
and fathers long since given over for dead stood 
out clear and distinct, smiling with bright faces 
upon their dear ones. 

At the cottage door two or three people had 
already collected, and others were coming up the 
street in an unwonted bustle. 

They found their way barred by an old woman 
— a resolute old woman, her face still working 


with the great joy which had come into her old 
Hfe, but who refused them admittance until her 
son had slept. Their thirst for news was uncon- 
trollable, but with a swelling in her throat she 
realised that her share in Tetbys Pride was safe. 

Women who had waited, and got patient at last 
after years of waiting, could not endure these ad- 
ditional few hours. Despair was endurable, but 
suspense ! " Ah, God ! Was their man alive ? 
What did he look like ! Had he aged much ? " 

" He was so fatigued he could scarce speak," 
said she. She had questioned him, but he was 
unable to reply. Give him but till the dawn, and 
they should know all. 

So they waited, for to go home and sleep was 
impossible. Occasionally they moved a little way 
up the street, but never very far, and gathering in 
small knots excitedly discussed the great event. 
It came to be understood that the rest of the crew 
had been cast away on an uninhabited island, it 
could be nothing else, and would doubtlessly soon 
be with them; all except one or two perhaps, 
who were old men when the ship sailed, and had 
probably died in the mean time. One said this in 
the hearing of an old woman whose husband, if 
alive, would be in extreme old age, but she smiled 
peacefully, albeit her lip trembled, and said she 
only expected to hear of him, that was all. 

The suspense became alm.ost unendurable. 
" Would this man never awake ? Would it never 


be dawn ? " The children were chilled with the 
wind, but their elders would scarcely have felt 
an Arctic frost. With growing impatience they 
waited, glancing at times at two women who held 
themselves somewhat aloof from the others ; two 
women who had married again, and whose second 
husbands waited, awkwardly enough, with them. 

Slowly the weary windy night wore away, the 
old woman, deaf to their appeals, still keeping her 
door fast. The dawn was not yet, though the 
oft-consulted watches announced it near at hand. 
It was very close now, and the watchers collected 
by the door. It was undeniable that things were 
seen a little more distinctly. One could see better 
the grey, eager faces of his neighbours. 

They knocked upon the door, and the old 
woman's eyes filled as she opened it and saw 
those faces. Unasked and unchid they invaded 
the cottage and crowded round the door. 

" I will go up and fetch him," said the old 

If each could have heard the beating of the 
other's hearts, the noise would have been deafen- 
ing, but as it was there was complete silence, 
except for some overwrought woman's sob. 

The old woman opened the door leading to the 
room above, and with the slow, deliberate steps 
of age ascended the stairs, and those below heard 
her calling softly to her son. 

Two or three minutes passed and she was heard 


descending the stairs again — alone. The smile, 
the pity, had left her face, and she seemed dazed 
and strange. 

" I cannot wake him," she said piteously. " He 
sleeps so sound. He is fatigued. I have shaken 
him, but, he still sleeps." 

As she stopped, and looked appealingly round, 
the other old woman took her hand, and pressing 
it led her to a chair. Two of the men sprang 
quickly up the stairs. They were absent but a 
short while, and then they came down like men 
bewildered and distraught. No need to speak. 
A low wail of utter misery rose from the women, 
and was caught up and repeated by the crowd 
outside, for the only man who could have set 
their hearts at rest had escaped the perils of the 
deep, and died quietly in his bed. 


Los Angeles 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 


OCT 2 3 198?. 


Form L9-42m-8,'49(B5573)444 




Jacobs - 
l/ore cargoes 


ILLKl -a tr-^il r 



J 2m 

3 1158 01220 2247 



AA 000 369 783 6